For the first time in Pac-12 play the Washington State men’s basketball team will be trying to start, not end, a streak on Wednesday at Stanford. Wins have been hard to come by of late for the Cougars (8-8, 1-3 Pac-12). But after beating Utah, 49-46, in Pullman on Sunday to end a three-game losing streak, they may be a little easier to find.
“I think when you lose a lot it becomes part of a cycle, and people start to get used to it. People start to become comfortable losing,” guard Brett Boese said. “I think maybe that’s what happened last year. And this year, if we can get this one win we can kind of roll on it and build on it. If we get on a roll and a cycle of winning it can really help our season.”
The Cougars will face a Stanford team that is also coming off its first Pac-12 win, an 82-80 road victory over then-No. 17 Oregon. The Cardinal have an imposing frontcourt led by Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell.
Powell chose to forego the 2013 NBA Draft and play his senior year at Stanford. The 6-foot-10 power forward has a 7-foot wingspan, which he uses to block and misdirect shots, and clog passing lanes. The senior ranks fifth in the conference in steals with 1.67 a game, and is the only post player among the top-10.
“The challenge against Stanford is that not only are they big and tall, they’re very athletic,” coach Ken Bone said. “Both Powell and Huestis – I think they’re 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 – it’s the fact that they’re long, they’re athletic and that can cause some problems when they’re on defense. And then offensively, those kids are very bouncy so they’re hard to guard.”
The team ranks second in the Pac-12 with 5.33 blocked shots per game and its offense flows through Chasson Randle, whose 19.5 points per game are third-most in the conference. The 6-foot-2 guard is fatal from behind the 3-point line, hitting 42.9 percent from behind the arc.
For the Cougars to get a winning streak going, they’ll likely need too to shoot well from the outside themselves. Though WSU is shooting just 32.3 percent on 3-pointers, the team showed the ability to hit from deep against Colorado’s poor perimeter defense.
They’ll have the opportunity to do so again against Stanford, which is 10th in the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage defense.