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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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WSU, UI get ready to face off


COUGARS

There are only four nonconference games left on the Washington State schedule, with Pac-10 play opening the last day of the month. This is also the Cougars final appearance on campus until conference begins. And it should be a good one. Read on.
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• If you're going to watch Idaho and WSU square off on FSN – or live – you want to watch the guards. That's where this one should be decided, out front. The inside players, DeAngelo Casto and Abe Lodwick for the Cougars and Marvin Jefferson and Luiz Toledo for UI, should pretty much cancel each other out, though the Vandals have gotten more from their bench this year. If that's the case, and I believe it will be, then the guys out front should determine the outcome. The Vandals start three seniors that combine for more than 38 points a game. The Cougars start two sophomores and a freshman that combine for more than 46 points a game. ... But that begs a question, what is more important, firepower or experience. In a game like this, a border battle between two pretty evenly matched teams, experience might be the deciding factor. Mac Hopson, Steffan Johnson and Kashif Watson give Idaho the ability to control the game on both ends of the court. ... But can they control Klay Thompson? The last two games, both losses, Thompson has been confronted with a big, physical guard who is denies him the ball all over the court, forcing Thompson to catch the ball outside of his comfort zone, making him put it on the floor before he can attack. The Vandals have guards who can get into Thompson, but might be hard-pressed to match his size. Watson is the tallest of the three, but at 6-3 is giving up at least 3 inches to Thompson. It will be interesting to see how that battle unfolds – actually, it will be interesting to see how Thompson is defended by everyone WSU plays. ... One last thought. The Cougar wore out at Gonzaga. They didn't have that problem in Kansas because of their turnover-addled start. If this one is close early, watch the substitution patterns. See if coach Ken Bone tries to rest everyone, saving their legs for the stretch run.

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• That's it for now. We'll be back after the game. We'll be writing at halftime – with an 8 p.m. start our deadline looms right after the game – so there won't be a post. Go ahead and use this one for your comments. We'll be back with the game story whenever we get it done. Until then ...



Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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