WSU Battles for the Palouse against Vandals

Cougs look to win in Moscow for first time since 2013

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

The Cougars’ men’s basketball team returns from the Cayman Islands to face the University of Idaho Vandals at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.

Ten miles separate these two universities, and this is the 275th game between WSU (3-4, 0-0) and Idaho (3-5, 0-0) for basketball.  WSU holds the winning record at 164-110. However, WSU has not won in Moscow since Dec. 7, 2013.

Head coach Kyle Smith said the atmosphere will be chaotic regardless of the short distance from home.

“It’s going to be a hornets’ nest,” Smith said in a press conference. “We just really need to focus on ourselves.”

Sophomore forward CJ Elleby took home a spot on the All-Tournament team after the Cayman Island Classic last week. So far this season, he approaches the top 20 in the nation in points per game.

Smith said he predicts a change in future opponent’s defensive strategies, and WSU looks to account for this prediction.

“He knows he is going to get the kitchen sink thrown at him,” Smith said. “He’s just got to make others better. I think that’s the next step for him.”

Aside Elleby, senior forward Jeff Pollard has had multiple double-digit scoring performances this season and has set new personal bests in points. Pollard said he wants to treat the team’s performance during the tournament as a motivator for future practices.

“We showed a lot of growth in these games,” Pollard said in his post-Cayman Island Classic press conference. “We just have to get back to practice and keep growing.”

Idaho’s senior guard Trevon Allen leads the team in points scored per game with 17.2. Idaho shares a similar scoring stat line with the Idaho State Bengals, who’s leading scorer is also a guard. WSU defeated the Bengals earlier this season by containing their guard to two points.

Idaho comes off back-to-back losses to North Dakota State and Seattle University, both by at least 17 points. Smith said this matchup against Idaho will be no different than their other games, and this will be a chance to adjust their recent struggles.

“It’ll be a good test for us. We’ll have the target on our back in the hostile environment,” Smith said. “We need to focus on what we can do better, rather than worry about our opponent as much.”

The battle for the Palouse will tip off at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho. The game can be viewed on SWX.