After splitting their home stand last week against conference foes Utah and Colorado, the Washington State Cougars (10-8) seek a much-needed boost as they travel south to take on No. 16 Oregon (16-2) tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Mathew Knight Arena.
While the Cougars are itching to improve upon their 1-4 conference mark, they’ll have a tough time doing so tonight as they face an Oregon Ducks team that leads the Pac-12 as the lone unbeaten team in conference play. To make matters worse for the Cougars, Oregon has yet to lose at home this season, riding a 12-game home winning streak — the team's longest in more than a decade.
“I think they’ve added a number of really talented players,” Head Coach Ken Bone said Tuesday. “They’re not just doing a good job offensively, but they’re very active defensively, they give you a lot of different looks. They’re playing very confident and good basketball.”
Bone specifically mentioned the talent and confidence of Oregon’s freshman guards, Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, who average 10.3 and 11.9 points per game, respectively.
“I love the confidence level they play with — especially for freshmen,” Bone said. “They go into different arenas, already, and they don’t appear to be freshmen.”
While the young duo of Artis and Dotson lead the Ducks’ backcourt, Oregon also receives equal contributions across the board from their three starting seniors Tony Woods, Carlos Emory and E.J. Singler — all who average in double-digit scoring.
While the Ducks spread their scoring numbers around, the Cougars rely more heavily on senior forward Brock Motum to shoulder the bulk of the scoring load. And while Motum has done just that this season — averaging 19.1 points per game — teams have stifled the big man with double and triple-team defense in recent games.
Bone talked about the need for the Cougars to counter such defensive schemes and the ability to get other players involved.
"Though sometimes it looks like Brock is a one-man show, it takes them a great deal of effort to try to get him the ball and try to execute some things," Bone said.
“I think it’s going to be a continuous challenge game-to-game depending on what type of defense we face,” Bone continued. “He’s not going to beat any team by himself, that’s for sure.”
Motum certainly will need scoring help if the Cougars hope to steal a road win against Oregon tonight — a team that already has three wins against ranked opponents this season.
Some of that help will likely come from fellow senior Mike Ladd, who has been the Cougars primary scoring option outside of Motum in conference play.
In addition, the Cougars will rely on redshirt sophomore guard Royce Woolridge to continue his aggressiveness in order to create plays on the offense — something Woolridge said he’s been working on in recent games.
“Coach Bone’s been telling me to be aggressive and look for other people if they’re open or look for my shot if I’m open,” Woolridge said.
The game will air on the Pac-12 Network along with the IMG Cougar Radio Network starting at 6:30 p.m.