The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

WSU men’s basketball takes first road trip to Connecticut

Cougars to play in Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament
Isaac Jones scored 13 points against his former team in his WSU debut. WSU men’s basketball beat Idaho 84-59, Nov. 6. 2023 at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Wash.

WSU (2-0) has won two straight now, both dominant victories over the type of competition they are meant to dominate. Now, the real test begins.

Next up for the Cougs is Mississippi State (3-0) at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The Bulldogs have faced one Pac-12 opponent already, Arizona State, who they beat by 15. The Cougs split the season series with the Sun Devils last year.

Mississippi State was a tournament team last year. After losing in the second round of the SEC tournament to Alabama, they made the First Four section of the NCAA tournament. A one-point loss to Pittsburgh in that First Four matchup knocked the Bulldogs out of what was only their second tournament appearance since 2009.

This season the Bulldogs have an average margin of victory of 22. The Cougs, in their two wins, have an average margin of victory of 21.5. They have both been getting business done against the opponents in front of them, but just like the Cougs, the Bulldogs have yet to face an opponent that put up a fight.

The Cougs won both the previous meetings of these teams by more than ten. Both of those meetings happened more than a decade ago, so a look at recent records might give a better sense of how these teams match up. 

Since the 2019-2020 season, the Cougs have not cleared a .600 record a single time, coming closest with a .595 record in the 2021-22 season. The Bulldogs have done it twice in the same span, including the tournament appearance last year with a .618 record.

These teams are similar, but it is clear that Mississippi State has had more recent success in both the regular season and post-season.

Mississippi State is led in scoring by guard Trey Fort with 13.7, closely followed by other starting guard Josh Hubbard with 13.3. Their only other player in double-digits is forward Jimmy Bell Jr., who is leading the team in rebounds with 11.7.

The Cougs are led in scoring by Andrej Jakimovski, who has now put together two great games averaging 17.5 points per. Three other Cougs are averaging double-figures: Isaac Jones, Myles Rice and Oscar Cluff. 

Looking at these stats on the surface, WSU seems to have more talent. With so few games played for either team, none of these stats mean much, but that bodes well.

The second game of the tournament is less certain, as it is to be determined by who wins (or loses) the other half of the bracket.

If that team is Rhode Island, it will be the first matchup of those two teams in either program’s history. Rhode Island is 3-0 and has rolled its opponents, averaging a massive 81 points per game as a team.

If that team is Northwestern, it will be the third matchup of those two teams all-time. The Cougs lead the series 2-1, with the last Cougar loss coming in 1939 on the same day that the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations.

This is the first Power Six opponent of the year for the Cougs. If they can win against the Bulldogs they will turn some heads, especially if they can follow that first win with a second tournament-clinching one.

The game will be at 9 a.m. Saturday in Connecticut. Fans can watch on ESPN+.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor
Hayden Stinchfield is a senior in Criminology from Washougal, WA. He is considered by some experts to be the greatest to ever spot birds. Hayden began working at the Evergreen in fall 2022, and became Sports Co-Editor in summer 2023.
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.