Basketball

Cougars host the Vandals on Wednesday trying to move to 4-0

The 3-0 Washington State Cougars host the 0-2 Idaho Vandals on Wednesday night in Pullman, Washington.

The Vandals had their first three games of the season cancelled due to the pandemic and then played Sacramento State in back-to-back games and lost them both by over 15 points.

The sample size isn’t massive, but in the Vandals first two games, no individual really separated themselves on the offensive side of the ball. The leading scorer for Idaho has been senior forward Scott Blakney with just 12 points per game.

The Vandals only have one other player who averages in double-figures and that’s sophomore guard Gabe Quinnett. Quinnett averages 10 points per game and is the leading playmaker and shot creator for Idaho, averaging 3.5 assists per game.

The Cougars are 3-0 and getting national attention as they received three votes in the AP Top 25 poll and the best part about that is they haven’t scratched the surface of what this group can become.

The defense has been exceptional for the Cougars making timely plays when they need them most whether its a steal by sophomore guard Noah Williams, a charge by junior forward Aljaz Kunc, or a monster block from freshman center Efe Abogidi.

WSU’s wins may have been closer than they should’ve been, but knowing how to win close games is an extremely valuable skill.

The Cougars have won two of their games by four points and the other by three. The reoccurring theme with each of those finishes was making plays on defense and having no direction offensively.

The offense has been the issue this year so far. Senior point guard Isaac Bonton is averaging 18 points per game, but shooting just 23.7 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from the beyond the arc.

Bonton is the focal point of the offense, but if his shooting struggles continue this team won’t win many games once Pac-12 play is in full swing.

A game against the Vandals could be the perfect opportunity for Bonton to find his rhythm. Bonton has been forcing the action trying to create looks for himself leading to him taking difficult shots.

Against Idaho, Bonton will be able to find to open looks within the offense and hopefully that will lead to him dialing in his jumpshot.

The Cougars are favored by 18.5 points on Wednesday. They need to use this opportunity to try work on the offense.

WSU will be able to control the tempo and pace of this game so hopefully they take advantage and find quality looks for their shooters and their bigs in search of some sort of rhythm.

The game against Idaho on Wednesday may not be super competitive, but it can play a major role going forward in terms of confidence. This should be WSU’s first game that isn’t competitive until the final possession meaning role players still looking to find their touch should receive more minutes and shot attempts than usual.

The Cougars don’t play another Pac-12 game until Dec.31st so utilizing this time to the fullest will play a massive role in how prepared WSU is for the games that really matter.

Let’s hope WSU continues to win the games that they are supposed to, but start to look more composed and patient on offense.

The game is at 6 p.m. and will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.

(Photos by: Bob Hubner – WSU Athletics)


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