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WSU Men's Basketball
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Report: Spokane to host Dec. 22 nonconference game between Washington State, Boise State

UPDATED: Thu., June 24, 2021

Washington State forward Daven Harmeling (32) reaches to block the shot of Boise States' Jamar Greene (4) during the second half of the college basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007, in Boise Idaho. Washington State went on to win 86-74.  (Associated Press)
Washington State forward Daven Harmeling (32) reaches to block the shot of Boise States' Jamar Greene (4) during the second half of the college basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007, in Boise Idaho. Washington State went on to win 86-74. (Associated Press)

Although Washington State’s complete basketball schedule hasn’t been announced, what could be the most intriguing game on the nonconference calendar was revealed Thursday.

Three days before Christmas, Washington State will reportedly play Boise State in a neutral-site game held in Spokane. CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein was the first to report the matchup.

A tipoff time hasn’t been announced and while Rothstein’s report didn’t specify a location, it’s presumed the game will be played at Spokane Arena – the home of numerous WSU nonconference and Pac-12 games over the years.

The Dec. 22 matchup has the potential to be one of the most compelling nonconference games on the West Coast, pitting a WSU team that returns three of its top four scorers and is considered to be a dark horse NCAA Tournament team against a BSU team that collected AP Top 25 votes in 2020-21 and was on the NCAA bubble before dropping its final three Mountain West games and losing in the conference tournament.

The Broncos lose top scorer Derrick Alston Jr., but return their next top four scorers, including three Pac-12 transfers: Abu Kigab (Oregon), Emmanuel Akot (Arizona) and Devonaire Doutrive (Arizona).

Outside of it featuring two potential NCAA Tournament contenders, the game will come with a handful of other fascinating storylines.

Boise State coach Leon Rice is a Richland native and WSU alum who graduated from the Pullman school in 1986 with a bachelor’s in physical education. The WSU-BSU matchup will mark a homecoming for Rice, who spent 11 years in Spokane as a top assistant and associate head coach (2007-10) to Gonzaga’s Mark Few.

When WSU fired former coach Ernie Kent following the 2018-19 basketball season, Rice, who’s led BSU to the postseason six times in 11 years – including two NCAA Tournament appearances – was considered to be a top candidate for the Cougars’ job before athletic director Pat Chun hired San Francisco’s Kyle Smith.

The game will also be a homecoming for Mt. Spokane High product Tyson Degenhart, a BSU signee and Greater Spokane League MVP who recently led the Wildcats to a 12-0 season. Degenhart scored a game-high 27 points in the finale against Central Valley in the East Region 3A/4A title game to secure an undefeated season.

The Cougars and Broncos have met six times in their history but not since 2007, when WSU beat BSU 86-74 in Boise. Derrick Low paced the Cougars with 26 points while Kyle Weaver scored 19 and Daven Harmeling contributed 18 more off the bench. WSU holds the 4-2 advantage in the series and won the only other game held at Spokane Arena, edging BSU 65-63 in 2006.

UCSB game added

WSU is scheduled to play at least one NCAA Tournament team as part of its nonconference schedule.

According to Rothstein, the Cougars will host UC Santa Barbara before diving into their Pac-12 schedule. The Gauchos went 22-5 in 2020-21, cruising past UC Irvine 79-63 in the Big West Tournament title game and nearly edging Creighton in a 63-62 loss at the NCAA Tournament.

A date for the game hasn’t been determined.

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