When Washington State (11-7, 3-3) and USC (12-6, 3-4) hit the floor Saturday afternoon in Pullman, WA, you'll see two teams ready to take out their frustration on an opponent.
USC is coming off a loss, 78-73, Thursday night to the streaking Huskies in Seattle. The game was one of offensive runs, with Washington putting together a streak that proved to be the difference in the game.
Trojan guard Daniel Hackett scored a season-high 24 points, including a spectacular 30-foot buzzer beater at the end of the first half. Hackett's heave from just inside the time line ripped through the twine and looked to rip out the hearts of the Huskies.
With the heart of a lion and the will of a man possessed, the pride and energy of Hackett wasn't enough to earn Coach Tim Floyd's team a victory.
Washington State is coming off a gut-wrenching loss to No. 11 UCLA, 61-59.
The Bruins appeared to have the game put away in the first half when Nikola Dragovic rained in three-point shots from everywhere.
The Cougs not only fought back, riding the hot hand of senior Caleb Forrest; they were in position to either tie or win the game in regulation.
WSU couldn't close the deal.
Expect a high energy game between these two talented teams from the opening tip-off at 3pm on the hardwood of Friel Court.
The Trojans are hoping that their top scorer, Dwight Lewis, will be able to play. Lewis tweaked an ankle during practice Monday and was still hobbling around Thursday night. He didn't even suit up for the game against Washington.
With Coach Floyd looking for more scoring from highly touted freshman DeMar DeRozan, the backcourt matchup will be key to the outcome of this game.
Can WSU young gun Klay Thompson shut down the skilled DeRozan?
Thompson has the size and quickness to give DeRozan a bad time, but no one is going to shut this kid down completely. He's just too quick and too clever.
At the other guard spot is a matchup between the leaders of their respective teams.
Senior Taylor Rochestie will have the assignment of taking Hackett out of his comfort zone. Rochestie has been playing outstanding defense for the Cougs in conference play. He did a nice job of quieting the force on UCLA's team, Darren Collison, for most of the game.
Though Hackett has the physical advantage, that doesn't matter to Rochestie. The crafty southpaw will be all over Hackett like...well...like white on rice.
Washington State should be able to exploit their advantage inside with senior Aron Baynes. Working the offense through Baynes will be pivotal (pun intended). The senior has game inside and should be able to lure super-athletic Taj Gibson into aggressive fouls. Without Gibson, the Trojans will have trouble on the boards.
The big advantage for Washington State in this game will be the energy generated by the Zzu Cru. When the fans roar, the Cougs respond.
The time has come for the WSU young guns to assert themselves and rebound from the tough loss to UCLA.