Easier Challenge

Washington State rose to the challenge in posting consecutive road wins its last two times out. The Cougars should have an easier time when they return home Sunday to face Portland State.


The eighth-ranked Cougars (8-0), off to the school's best start since the 1991-92 team opened with 12 consecutive victories, won 51-47 at No. 17 Gonzaga on Wednesday in a matchup of the state's top two programs. The victory came less than a week after Washington State rallied to win 67-64 at Baylor on Nov. 30 in its first true road test.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Washington State -19 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on Washington State -19 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Those victories will only reinforce the Cougars as a legitimate top 10 program that is poised to challenge UCLA for the Pac-10 title.

Wednesday's win over Gonzaga was Washington State's first over a ranked team this season and just its eighth in the last 112 road games versus Top 25 schools.

"This was a big game and a lot of excitement," Washington State coach Tony Bennett said. "But it's one game."

It should, however, further increase the team's confidence as the Cougars held an opponent to 47 or fewer points for the fourth time in eight contests. Washington State is among the top three defensive teams in the nation, allowing 51.5 points per game. It held Gonzaga to a season low for points Wednesday.

"I think the battle for second place (in the state) will be fought between the Zags and the Dawgs (Washington)," said Washington State leading scorer Derrick Low, who had a season-low six points - almost eight below his 13.5 average. "We made a statement."

Junior center Aron Baynes had nine of his team-high 13 points in the second half, and added seven rebounds against the Bulldogs after scoring 10 in the victory at Baylor. The 6-foot-10 Baynes is averaging 9.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in his first full season as a starter.

Senior guard Kyle Weaver matched his season average with 12 points to go with six rebounds after being held to eight points versus Baylor.

The Cougars look for their 16th consecutive home victory over a non-conference opponent when they meet Portland State (6-3) for the first time since recording an 83-55 win on Nov. 20, 2000.

Washington State is 5-0 all-time against Portland State.

The Vikings will try for their fourth straight victory after a 61-60 win over Division III Lewis & Clark on Wednesday.

Junior guard Andre Murray had 14 points and nine rebounds for Portland State, which held on despite being outscored 40-29 in the second half.

Murray, a junior college transfer is averaging 5.7 points, but has scored 26 points in his last two contests since entering the starting lineup.

Portland State, which returns three starters and is picked to finish third in the Big Sky, will face its second ranked team of the season after losing 69-48 at then-No. 2 UCLA in its opener on Nov. 9.

The Vikings have lost their last eight contests versus Top 25 teams.

by Staff Writers - Email Us

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