Cougars start Pac-12 Tournament against Cal, Oregon

First two rounds are teams the Cougs have beaten



WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye shoots the ball during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Detroit Mercy, Nov. 25.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

WSU women’s basketball just won the Pac-12 Tournament, bringing WSU its first championship in decades. Now, the men’s team has a tournament of its own. 

They fought for seeding and made it to where they will get to play a low-seed opponent, but that does not mean it will be a walk in the park. As the fifth seed, the Cougs will face the Cal Golden Bears.

The Golden Bears are an opponent the Cougs beat twice during the regular season, both times in rather convincing wins. The Cougs are hot as of late, winning their last six. Matching up with Cal was probably their best chance to make that seven straight, as Cal is the worst team in the Pac-12 by a good margin and is the 12 seed.

The last game against Cal was a 6-point win in which Mouhamed Gueye had a 20-point double-double and TJ Bamba had 19 points. DJ Rodman had 10 rebounds as well. 

On the Cal side, nobody had a great game but the team as a whole held WSU’s shooting numbers low enough that they were able to keep up for much of the game.

There is not much to say about how to beat Cal because the Cougs should have the ability to do it pretty easily. They need to play a decent game and keep consistent scoring, the same as every game.

Bamba had 36 in his last time out against University of Washington, a career-high. He has averaged 20 over the last seven games on great shooting percentages. Cal should not be able to stop him and the Cougs should advance.

Assuming that happens, the Cougs will have to face Oregon in the second round.

WSU and Oregon split their season series, with each team taking its home game. The most recent matchup was a close one in Pullman, with the Cougs taking it by 3 points behind 18 from Gueye. Six Cougs had eight or more points, an all-around good performance that saw the Cougs shoot almost 40% from 3-point range. 

Keeshawn Barthelemy led the Ducks in that game with 17 off the bench and the Cougs managed to hold the starters back in the second half to really pull ahead and keep the lead for most of the back half of the game.

Bamba had only 11 in that game. Since then he has heated up a lot. He and the Cougs will need to stay hot in the tournament and seeing the Ducks again will hopefully be a good litmus test of if they can do that.

The Cal game is at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Las Vegas and the hypothetical Oregon game will come at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Both games will be on Pac-12 Network.