The Pac-12 has had a history of success in theWooden Legacy tournament, winning three of the last five championships and fourof 10 overall. Washington State will try to add to that Sunday night when itfaces San Diego State in the title game in Fullerton, Calif.
After rallying to clip St. Joseph’s 75-71 in thequarterfinals, the Cougars used some hot shooting – 58.9 percent from the fieldfor the game, 62.1 percent in the second half – to upend 21st-rankedSaint Mary’s 84-79 in Friday’s semifinals. With the win, Washington Stateimproved to 5-0, marking the program’s first such start since 2010-11 when theCougars finished 22-13 – the school’s best finish in the last decade. “Wecontinue to grow up a little bit with each challenge,” Washington State coachErnie Kent said Friday in his post-game news conference. “We’re already betterthan when we got on the plane to come here. The bigger the challenge, thebigger the stage, the more they rise up.” San Diego State also has risen to thechallenge in Fullerton, routing Sacramento State (89-52) and then outduelingGeorgia (75-68) in the semifinals to reach the championship game.
TV: 11:59 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (5-0): The Cougars hadneeded second-half rallies to erase halftime deficits in three of its firstfour games but took a 42-40 edge into the break against an experienced SaintMary’s squad and then won the second half (42-39) as well for the fifth time infive games this season. Guard Malachi Flynn, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointerwith five seconds remaining Thursday against St. Joseph’s, carried the momentuminto Friday’s semifinal, scoring a game- and season-high 26 points whilegrabbing seven rebounds and dishing out four assists. Flynn is now averaging16.4 points per game, joining forward Robert Franks (17.8) and guard CarterSkaggs (10.6) in double figures for Washington State, which ranks among thenational leaders with 13 made 3-pointers per game.
ABOUT SAN DIEGO STATE (5-1): Guard Devin Watsonscored a team-high 16 points against Georgia to up his season average to 12.3 –joining fellow starters Malik Pope (13.8), Trey Kell (12.7) and Matt Mitchell(11.0) in double digits. Pope, though, saw his minutes limited after drawing atechnical foul in the first half Friday and finished with nine points – his secondstraight game in single digits after reaching double figures in his sevenprevious outings. Defensively, the Aztecs have been strong so far, allowingonly 62.8 points on 37.5-percent shooting, including 26.6 percent from 3-pointrange, and forcing 15.8 turnovers per game.
1. San Diego State is looking for its secondWooden Legacy title, having won the 2013 crown behind tournament MVP XavierThames.
2. Washington State has won all five meetings in theseries, but Sunday’s game will be first meeting since Dec. 21, 2006.
3. Franks, a 6-foot-7 forward, is also averaging ateam-most 7.0 rebounds for the Cougars and has scored at least 15 points infour of five games so far after reaching that standard only twice in his firsttwo seasons.
PREDICTION: San Diego State 75, Washington State72