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 to go to war against Trojans in Pullman

No. 19 Cougs to host Rodman’s underperforming USC team
WSU men’s basketball team celebrate with WSU guard DJ Rodman after the later-rescinded announcement that Rodman would be returning to the program for his 5th year before an NCAA men’s basketball game, Feb. 19, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

The day has come. It has been almost a year since DJ Rodman played in Beasley Coliseum for his last time as a Coug. Now, he is back, this time in a different shade of red.

No. 19 WSU men’s basketball (21-7, 12-5 Pac-12) will face USC (11-16, 5-11 Pac-12) on Thursday. It is a rematch, with the Cougs taking the previous game by a score of 72-64 in January.

The Cougs won that game soundly. It was Isaac Jones’ first and only game off the bench, scoring 26 points to guarantee himself a starting spot for the rest of the year. It was also Jaylen Wells’ breakout game, scoring 17 points and sliding into a starting spot that he has not given up since.

USC is not having the season that fans expected. The Trojans were ranked second in the preseason media poll, behind only Arizona in the Pac-12. The very same media poll had WSU in 10th.

The standings now are a near-perfect reverse of that, with WSU sitting second and USC sitting 11th in the conference, second to last ahead of only Oregon State.

The Trojans are led by a pair of guards, senior Boogie Ellis and freshman Isaiah Collier. Ellis is scoring 17 points per game in his fifth season of college basketball and third at USC, while Collier is scoring 16 in his first and likely to be only collegiate year.

Collier has been the storyline of the season for USC, scoring at a good clip and dishing out 4.3 assists per game. He is likely going to be an NBA lottery pick later this year, as either the first or second Pac-12 player off the board.

He is second in Pac-12 Freshman of the Week awards behind WSU’s own Myles Rice, who had a tough week down in Arizona and will be looking to bounce back with just two weeks left to secure sole possession of the all-time FOTW record.

The last time the Cougs and the Trojans met, Collier had 12 points. Ellis had 18, leading USC in scoring en route to the 12-point loss. Leading the team in rebounds, though, was DJ Rodman with eight.

Rodman’s return has been circled on Cougar calendars for months. While there is still lots of love for the Murrow College graduate, that does not mean his reception will be an entirely kind one.

Booing is a certainty. Head coach Kyle Smith spoke on how he expects it to go.

“I think he’ll probably prepare to get booed. Our Pullman faithful not feeling kindly to that,” Smith said. “It’ll be weird, awkward, for everyone a little bit. He’s one of our own, we still look at him that way.”

The Cougs need the win to have a chance to play in Spokane once tournament time comes. The team is near perfect at home, only losing once to Oregon early in the season. USC is certainly not Oregon, and if the Cougars come out looking better than they did in Saturday’s loss they will likely blow the Trojans out.

Bronny James will also likely play, but he has not been a serious factor in any games all year. His name combined with Rodman’s return will probably make this one a packed house, but he is not someone the Cougs need to gameplan around. Still, worth mentioning.

Rodman, Collier and the rest of the Trojans will tip off against the Cougs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Beasley Coliseum. The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.

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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.
HAILEE SPEIR, Evergreen photo editor
Hailee Speir is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Hailee is a junior English education major from Spokane, Washington. Hailee started working for the Evergreen in fall 2021 as a photographer.