Buffalo (4-7) vs. Washington State (7-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 21, 10:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: KeyArena (17,072) -- Seattle, Washington. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Buffalo 2-2, Washington State 7-1. Away Record: Buffalo 2-3, Washington State 0-1. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-2, Washington State 0-2. Conference Record: Buffalo 0-0, Washington State 0-0. Series Record: Washington State leads, 2-0.
GAMES NOTES: The Pac-12's leading scorer, Brock Motum, will lead the Washington State Cougars in a non-conference bout against the Buffalo Bulls at KeyArena on Friday night.
The Bulls have begun to hit their stride after a rough start to the season. With a 77-67 victory over rival Niagara in their last game the Bulls have won back-to-back games for the first time this season and pushed their record to 4-7 overall. The game against Niagara came on Dec. 8, so the Bulls have had plenty of rest as they look to improve their 2-3 record in road contests. Buffalo returns home to face Division II foe Notre Dame College next Friday.
Washington State has been playing well of late and has earned wins in five of its last six games. All of those contests came at home for the Cougars who have played eight games, seven of which they have won, in Pullman this year. Washington State is a solid 7-4 overall but has really benefited from an schedule early on that has been top heavy in terms of home contests. This game is technically a neutral site contest for the Cougars as the team won't play another game at KeyArena all season. Washington State faces Idaho State in another neutral site contest next.
This will be the first meeting between these teams since the 1950-51 season. In that contest Washington State cruised to a 70-49 victory to move to 2-0 in the all-time series.
Buffalo got the better of Niagara in its last outing by shooting nearly 10 percentage points better than the Purple Eagles. The Bulls connected on 44.9 percent of their shots from the field, while limiting Niagara to 35.7 percent shooting. Buffalo also doubled up Niagara in points off turnovers (16-8) and went on to win despite a 39-32 deficit on the boards. Will Regan really played well with 26 points and eight rebounds, both team-highs.
The win against Niagara came despite a poor showing from Javon McCrea. The 6- foot-7 forward (16.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg) was marred with foul trouble and was held to three points in his first game this season in which he failed to score in double figures. Regan's offensive showing was a bit out of the ordinary for him as he is averaging only 10.8 points per game this season. Regan is capable of scoring well as he connects on 54.5 percent of his shots from the field. The Bulls will be without Jarod Oldham (10.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.4 apg) in this contest as the guard is undergoing wrist surgery. Tony Watson (9.0 ppg) is the only other player averaging more than 5.5 points per game.
It certainly wasn't a pretty win for Washington State but the Cougars still came out on top in a 52-41 victory over Jackson State last time out. The Cougars' offensive effort was rather poor, with the team shooting at a 40.8 percent clip, but Washington State made up for it on the other end where it limited Jackson State to just 13 total fields and 22.8 percent shooting overall. Washington State had a 44-29 advantage on the boards and a 30-14 edge in points in the paint. Motum (27 points, eight rebounds) was a major reason for the interior dominance.
Motum is no stranger to the top of the Pac-12 scoring list as he finished last year as the leading scorer in the conference as well. The 6-foot-10 forward is scoring 20.4 points per game and has also increased his rebounding numbers (6.9 ppg) from a year ago. After his 27-point outburst against Jackson State, Motum has scored at least 23 points in five straight games. Motum doesn't get a ton of help on the offensive end with DaVonte Lacy (10.1 ppg) the only other player in double figures. D.J. Shelton (5.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Mike Ladd (8.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) don't provide much in terms of scoring but do crash the boards relatively well.
The matchup to watch in this game is between McCrea and Motum. McCrea will need to be careful to stay out of foul trouble, which could be a problem since the Cougars will be feeding the ball to Motum inside all night. As long as the Cougars continue to keep up the defensive pressure and Motum keeps scoring at such a high rate a win should be within reach.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington State 65, Buffalo 58
12/21 10:33:44 ET