Stepping into a hostile environment Saturday, the WSU men’s basketball team squares off against a California Golden Bears squad backed by a home crowd, averaging 8,500 fans per game.
Haas Pavilion is ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in attendance. The Cougars will head north after a Thursday night game against Stanford in Palo Alto, California.
WSU comes to the Bay Area after splitting a pair of games with the Oregon schools last weekend.
Points may be tough to come by for the Cougars, considering the Golden Bears allow just 62 points per game on average. WSU will turn to freshman point guard Malachi Flynn for point production against Cal, as the Tacoma native has scored double-figures in his past four outings.
Flynn is averaging 11 points per game this season and is fourth in the conference for three-point percentage, shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc.
“He has handled himself extremely well as a freshman,” Head Coach Ernie Kent said in an interview with WSU Athletic Communications. “On days off, he is such a worker, we literally have to sit on him to make him take time off.”
The matchup of the night will likely be between WSU senior forward Josh Hawkinson and Cal sophomore forward Ivan Rabb. Hawkinson is coming into the matchup averaging 16 points per game. He ranks second in the conference in rebounds per game and has a total of nine double-doubles on the year.
In comparison, Rabb averages 15 points per game and is the only player in the conference to average more rebounds per game than Hawkinson.
“He’s (Rabb) a rare guy at that size that can do so many different things: score in the post, pass the ball, and hit three point shots,” Cal Head Coach Cuonzo Martin stated in a news conference with Cal Athletic Communications. “He’s a special talent and we have to continue to take advantage of it.”
Kent said he is excited to take the Cougs on a road trip and continue to build team chemistry.
“Typically, my teams always come together on the road,” Kent said.
WSU and Cal play at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Haas Pavilion. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.