If Washington State’s first two games are any indication, this season figures to be a roller-coaster ride filled with halftime deficits, streaky shooting and manic comebacks. The Cougars look for a smoother outing Saturday against visiting Idaho State, which was picked to finish 11th in the Big Sky Conference preseason media poll.
The Cougars have received a welcome spark from sophomore guard Carter Skaggs, a transfer from Chipola College (Fla.) who made seven of his eight 3-point attempts and finished with 26 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday’s 75-59 win over Seattle University. The Cougars trailed at the half against both Texas Southern and Seattle before storming back with improved shooting and tougher play on the boards. “To be 2-0 and growing up with this young team, it’s really neat to see because they are so different than the teams I have had here in the past,” coach Ernie Kent told reporters. “Number one, it’s the youngest team I have probably coached in my coaching career. Number two, it is a team that can really score.” Washington State is averaging 48.5 points in the second half compared to 25 in the first but hopes for a more complete effort against the Bengals.
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT IDAHO STATE (0-2): After opening with a 94-74 loss to Arizona State, the Bengals fell 84-71 to Utah State on Tuesday despite a career-high 28 points from sophomore guard Brandon Boyd. Senior guard Gene Luzcando, who ranks second on the school’s all-time list with 163 steals, added 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting but the Bengals were dominated on the boards and allowed Utah State to shoot 52.3 percent from the field. Coach Bill Evans has been encouraged by the play of junior forward Jacob McCord, who is averaging 14 points on 50 percent shooting through two games.
ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (2-0): Sophomore point guard Malachi Flynn, the team’s only returning starter, has picked up where he left off last season by averaging 16 points and 6.5 assists in wins over Texas Southern and Seattle. Junior guard Viont’e Daniels was 4-of-5 from 3-point range and finished with 17 points against Seattle, while graduate transfer Drick Bernstine made his Cougar debut and recorded four points and four rebounds in 19 minutes. The Cougars’ many scoring options include junior forward Robert Franks, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds in the season opener.
1. Washington State holds an 8-1 lead in the all-time series, including six straight wins.
2. Idaho State’s last win over a team from a Power 5 conference came against Oregon on Dec. 3, 1986.
3. Washington State has made 27 3-pointers through two games after averaging 6.7 last season.
PREDICTION: Washington State 81, Idaho State 64