MBK: Cougs host Pac-12 co-leader UCLA Thur. night
After playing eight of the last 10 games on the road, Washington State returns to Beasley Coliseum to take on the Los Angeles schools beginning with a rematch against #24 UCLA Thursday night.
In fact, Thursday night's matchup in Pullman jumpstarts a five-game homestand for the Cougars. WSU hosts USC late Saturday afternoon and Apple Cup rival Washington Monday night, so the Cougars play three games at home in five days.
The Bruins won the first matchup with WSU, 91-61, on Jan. 14 by shooting lights out in the contest. The win by the Bruins was the second-straight in the series at LA with the Cougs winning the last time the two teams met at Pullman on Jan. 4, 2020, prevailing in OT thanks to 17 points from Isaac Bonton (16 coming after half).
UCLA sits tied atop the standings alongside USC. The two teams met last week with the Trojans dominating the night behind Evan Mobley.
While the freshmen have received the publicity, the Cougs' sophomores have taken over led by Noah Williams, Ryan Rapp, and DJ Rodman. The three combined for 41 of the 66 points scored at OSU last time out.
Senior Isaac Bonton continues to dominate the Pac-12 scoring with 20+ points in three of the last four games while averaging 19.1 ppg in Pac-12 play. Last time against UCLA, Bonton scored 23 pts on 10-of-17 shooting.
Sophomore Noah Williams continues his turn to elite status having averaged 15.6 ppg in his last 7 games. Additionally, he has been the Cougs best shooter from deep on the year hitting 31-72 (.431), eighth among Pac-12 shooters.
Last time against the Bruins, the Cougs fell behind early and could never recover as UCLA shot a blazing 64.5% in the opening half to lead by double-digits at the break. Even more frustrating for the Cougs was the fact WSU shot an impressive 57.7% in the second half but could not catch the torrid Bruins. In the loss, senior Isaac Bonton scored a game-high 23 points but was the lone Coug to hit double-figures.
UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell, a sophomore from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has averaged 11.2 points and a league-best 5.9 assists per game (17 contests). This marks the first season since 2015-16 in which UCLA has returned its starting point guard from the previous year (2014-15 and 2015-16, Bryce Alford).
Cody Riley has established himself as a go-to frontcourt scoring threat for UCLA, averaging 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in 16 games. Riley has totaled four double-doubles, including a 16-point and 10-rebound performance in UCLA's 57-52 win over Oregon State.
Riley has started 16 games for the Bruins, logging noticeable improvements in his field goal percentage (54.8%) and free throw percentage (68.3%). Riley has made 14 of 18 shots from the field in the Bruins' final five minutes of all games (and made 16 of 20 free throws in those late-game situations, as well).
NEXT FIVE GAMES