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Get ready for a slugfest

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN -- Not sure what to expect tonight between Washington State and Utah? Here's a guess: few points and a tight finish. Read on.

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I wrote prior to Saturday's game against California that it felt like a big one for both teams, and especially for WSU because of its 0-2 start. Well, that start now sits at 0-3, so you can imagine that a home game against another team with a winless conference record is probably pretty big, too. I'm not a big fan of the term "must-win game" -- aren't they all must-win games, if you're a competitor? -- but this is one. Like Vince pointed out earlier today, a loss could set up the potential for an 0-5 start, and that'd be an awfully big hole from which to climb. ... So, what do the Cougars have to do in order to prevent that from happening? The first answer, I think, is simple: make some outside shots. Get DaVonte Lacy, Mike Ladd and Royce Woolridge going from the perimeter, and that'll open up Utah's pack-it-in defense and allow more opportunities for Brock Motum to go to work. And WSU needs to be more aggressive attacking the rim than it was against Cal, which deterred the Cougars by blocking 11 shots. ... Don't be surprised if you don't recognize many names on Utah's roster from last season. The Utes' leading scorer, Jarred DuBois, is a transfer from Loyola Marymount, and Jordan Loveridge, a 6-foot-6 forward who also scores in double-figures, is a freshman. The Utes rank fifth in the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting percentage, and also have enough size to give WSU some trouble on the boards. This is a team that lost at home to UCLA by four points and at Arizona by three. This game is in no way a gimme.

OK, that's all for now. We'll be back after the game.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple




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