February 27, 2011 in Sports

Cougars-Huskies rivalry heats up

By The Spokesman-Review
 

SEATTLE – Reggie Moore knows what’s coming tonight.

His Washington State Cougars will not only be facing possibly the Pac-10’s most talented team in the University of Washington but the raucous Hec Ed crowd as well.

After the atmosphere that greeted the Huskies in Beasley Coliseum four weeks ago, it may even be more raucous than ever.

“It’s going to be pretty crazy, pretty wild,” said Moore who has seen his share of Hec Ed craziness, including last season, when the then-freshman point guard flexed to the crowd after a late first-half breakaway slam.

Moore admits he regrets the action, which seemed to inspire the Huskies to a 56-point second half and a 92-64 rout.

“That’s just not the type of basketball player I want to be,” he said of the emotional display.

But he knows the Washington students won’t forget.

Nor will they forgive his recent marijuana charges, any more than the WSU students shied away from the sexual-assault accusation a Washington player was facing. No charges were filed in that case.

“Oh yeah, definitely,” Moore said when asked if he thought the students would bring his problems up. “But I don’t even care about it. It’s whatever. They’re going to throw their chants out there and I’m probably going to laugh at it.

“Sure, they’ll have some chants ready for us. But that’s a fun part of the game. That’s why we play it.”

Another part of college basketball is friendships. Being from Seattle, Moore is friendly with UW guards Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton, which adds another level to the rivalry.

“It’s different just because I play against my friends,” Moore said. “And just being back in Seattle. That’s what’s big to me, because Seattle’s really important to me.”

Thomas feels the same way, especially after his Huskies committed 24 turnovers as the Cougars won 87-80 in Pullman and the WSU students rushed the court.

“I’m not friends with him right now,” Thomas told reporters this week. “They got us last time. So if we win this one, then I’ll hit him up.”

Thomas and the Huskies (19-8, 10-5 Pac-10) were not too happy with the postgame celebration at Beasley. Comments were made afterward and continued even this week, with Thomas speaking about it.

“Hopefully, it’s lingering in a few other players on our team,” he said. “After that game, I just watched how they did that. They felt it was the right thing to do, I guess. I remember it, so it’s something that is on my shoulder and hopefully we get it correct this time.”

But should the students’ actions really serve as motivation, or is it just a made-for-the-media tempest?

“I think they’re motivated differently than the fans rushing the court,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “I can’t believe that will be a big motivational factor. Maybe it is.

“(But) I think there is more at stake than that.”

There is. The Huskies are trying to finish in the Pac-10’s top two, while WSU (17-10, 7-8) is trying to rebound from a disappointing 71-69 loss to an Arizona State team that had dropped its previous 11 conference games.

Which leads to the product on the court. The Huskies will be without wing Scott Suggs (sprained left MCL), who had 12 points in the first meeting. C.J. Wilcox, who missed the previous WSU game with an injury, has replaced Suggs in the starting lineup.

Thomas leads UW in scoring (16.7 points per game) and assists (5.7). Matthew Bryan-Amaning is second in scoring (16.6) and leads in rebounding (8.2).

With three regular-season Pac-10 contests left, WSU is trying desperately to stay out of the bottom four spots and playing on the first day of the conference tournament. The Cougars have lost three of four and five of eight.

“We’ve got to share the ball. That’s huge,” Moore said. “You’ve seen our biggest games … we just played balanced. We’ve got a lot of people who can play basketball and are really good.

“As long as we use all our talent we’ll be fine.”

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