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Cougars need better rebounding effort against Huskies

Thu., Feb. 23, 2012

A glance at Washington State’s box score from Jan. 15 is all that is needed to understand where it must improve the most against Washington (19-8, 12-3 Pac-12) this week.

The Cougars (14-13, 6-9) started quickly in that game and led for nearly the entire first half, then threatened to blow it open midway through the second. But the Huskies roared back, thanks to a jaw-dropping 46-24 rebounding advantage.

Correcting that number will be a priority for the Cougars when they host UW at 5 p.m. Saturday.

“I think our approach was right,” coach Ken Bone said. “Our guys really tried to keep the Huskies off the glass, but Washington was very physical, strong, relentless, especially the last half, and had their way with us.”

UW leads the conference in offensive rebound percentage (38.6), making it a big part of the Huskies’ offense.

Eagles take care of ball, win on road

If Eastern Washington is to take care of business in its biggest road trip of the season, the Eagles need to keep taking care of the ball.

They’ve done that well this season. In 24 of 27 games this year, the Eagles have committed fewer turnovers than their opponents.

The Eagles rank 11th in Division I and lead the Big Sky with a turnover margin of plus-4.1. Eastern is on pace to shatter the school record for fewest turnovers committed – 13.5 per game in 1999-2000.

Eastern has five road wins already this year, compared with two in all of last year. And that, in turn, could help bring a Big Sky tournament game to Reese Court, something that hasn’t happened since 2006.

“That would be a tremendous foundation for the program,” first-year head coach Jim Hayford said.

On the rebound

How has Idaho’s Kyle Barone, the back-to-back WAC player of the week, elevated his game to such a high level? Vandals coach Don Verlin points to the junior’s increased focus on rebounding.

“I really think he’s been asserting himself, especially on the rebounding end,” Verlin said. “I think he’s rebounded the ball extremely well lately.”

Barone is fifth in the WAC in rebounding (8.2 per game), and he’s averaged 17.6 points during Idaho’s five-game winning streak.

Official ruling

The conference office confirmed that there was an inadvertent whistle near the end of the Gonzaga-San Francisco game. It came with just more than a minute left as both teams scrambled for possession of a loose ball near the free-throw line and Gonzaga attempted to call a timeout. Officials determined a USF player had possession when the whistle sounded and awarded possession to the Dons.

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