Mavericks come to Pullman

Men’s basketball stays home to host Omaha; team had three players score double digit points last game

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Mavericks come to Pullman

Junior guard Isaac Bonton goes up for a shot against Idaho State on Sunday. Bonton finished the game with 15 points.

Junior guard Isaac Bonton goes up for a shot against Idaho State on Sunday. Bonton finished the game with 15 points.

HSING-HAN CHEN | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Junior guard Isaac Bonton goes up for a shot against Idaho State on Sunday. Bonton finished the game with 15 points.

HSING-HAN CHEN | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

HSING-HAN CHEN | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Junior guard Isaac Bonton goes up for a shot against Idaho State on Sunday. Bonton finished the game with 15 points.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

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The Cougars men’s basketball team will face the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks at 4 p.m. Thursday at Beasley Coliseum.

This Thursday is the first time that WSU (2-1, 0-0) battles against Omaha (2-3, 0-0) in school history.

WSU comes off a 72-61 victory against Idaho State Sunday where sophomore forward CJ Elleby achieved seven total steals. One steal shy of the best single game total in Cougar basketball history.

Head coach Kyle Smith said this WSU defense is a large factor in their success thus far.

“We’ve been able to turn people over,” Smith said. “I think that has helped our [defense].”

Elleby is averaging 20 points per game this season, and junior guard Isaac Bonton is averaging 15 points. Smith said he still urges Bonton to shoot the ball despite his low shooting percentage this season.

“He’s going to get there,” Smith said. “We’re best when he’s on the floor.”

WSU is averaging eight turnovers per game, which ranks second in the nation for fewest turnovers after three games played. Senior forward Jeff Pollard said this stat reflects one of the team’s main pillars that is emphasized every practice.

“It definitely shows,” Pollard said. “The more we work on it in practice, the more we get out of it.”

Senior guard Jervae Robinson said the team wants to continue to improve this stat and get better every game.

“It’s early,” Robinson said. “But we just want to keep getting better.”

Omaha played against University of Dayton on the road Tuesday and fell 93-68. Smith said WSU is planning to contend against a tough, physical Midwest team, despite what the stats may show.

Smith said freshman center Volodymyr Markovetskyy, a 7-foot center from Ukraine, may play his first game of the season against Omaha. Smith said Markovetskyy’s presence will slow down Omaha’s strong forwards under the basket.

“If he’s around the rim on those put backs, it should take some heat off that end,” Smith said.

After his injury last game, there is still no certainty on redshirt senior guard Jaylen Shead playing against Omaha. The team has not discovered anything serious with his injury, and they expect to see him back soon, Smith said.

WSU will tip off against Omaha at 4 p.m. Thursday at Beasley Coliseum and the game can be viewed on Pac-12 Networks.