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Washington State to host seven nonconference games during Kyle Smith’s debut season

UPDATED: Thu., July 25, 2019, 10:07 p.m.

Kyle Smith speaks to media during a news conference in Washington State University’s Rankich Club Room on  April 1  in Pullman. Smith has taken over head coaching duties for the men’s basketball team. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Kyle Smith speaks to media during a news conference in Washington State University’s Rankich Club Room on April 1 in Pullman. Smith has taken over head coaching duties for the men’s basketball team. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – The nonconference basketball schedule that Washington State will play in 2019 won’t be particularly challenging on paper and should present first-year coach Kyle Smith with numerous chances to notch victories before the Cougars dive into Pac-12 Conference play next January.

WSU’s nonconference schedule, which was released Thursday afternoon, features one team that earned a bid to the 2019 NCAA Tournament, one other team from a Power Five conference and one team that fell inside the top 100 of ESPN’s BPI index rating system.

The nonconference schedule should have lots of familiarity for the returning Cougars, though, as the team plays four repeat opponents from last season: New Mexico State, Santa Clara, Idaho and Seattle U.

Fans located in the Pullman or Spokane area will have nine chances to see the Cougars play locally. Seven nonconference games are slated to take place at Beasley Coliseum, one is set for the Spokane Arena and another will take place in Moscow at the Cowan Spectrum as WSU and Idaho meet for the 114th time in the Battle of the Palouse.

WSU will open the season in Pullman against Seattle U (Nov. 7) before going on the road to face one of Smith’s old rivals from the West Coast Conference, Santa Clara (Nov. 12). The Redhawks and Broncos should present competitive environments for the Cougars, as well as a neutral-site game in Spokane against reigning Western Athletic Conference champion New Mexico State (Dec. 7).

“Seattle U poses a big challenge in the opener as they will be projected to finish near the top of the WAC,” Smith said. “In addition, playing at Santa Clara and New Mexico State in Spokane will give us possible quad one opportunities.”

WSU will bring Idaho State (Nov. 17) to Pullman and Omaha (Nov. 21) will also make a trip north in conjunction with the 2019 Cayman Islands Classic.

WSU’s lone game against a fellow Power Five program will come against Nebraska (Nov. 25) in George Town, Grand Cayman, followed by a second-round Cayman Classic game against either George Mason or Old Dominion (Nov. 26). The Cougars have a 4:30 p.m. tipoff against the Cornhuskers and will play at either 5 or 7:30 p.m. the following day.

WSU will finish out the tournament the next day, potentially playing NMSU – which could signify the third of four nonconference meetings between the teams in two years – Colorado State or South Florida.

“I think that’s something we always want to try to do … push ourselves in one event,” Smith said. “I think those are healthy for your program.”

The Cougars return to the Palouse to play Idaho (Dec. 4) in the longest-standing college basketball rivalry west of the Mississippi River, then make a short trip to Spokane three days later to play the Aggies.

Four more games in Beasley Coliseum finish off the nonconference schedule: UC Riverside (Dec. 15), Florida A&M (Dec. 19), Incarnate Word (Dec. 21) and Arkansas Pine Bluff (Dec. 29).

Times and television arrangements for all nonconference games will be announced at a later date.

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