A big weekend in the Palouse kicks off tonight as the Washington State Cougars host the Kansas State Wildcats at Beasley Coliseum. The Wildcats come into the game ranked No. 5 in the country at 6-1, only losing to Duke in the CBE Classic. Led by senior Jacob Pullen, the Wildcats look formidable again this year, after narrowly missing a trip to the Final Four in last season's NCAA tournament.
Pullen comes into the game averaging 16 points per game, best on the Kansas State squad. The senior is complimented by Rodney McGruder, averaging 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, and Curtis Kelly, 10.3 points per game. Kelly had been in coach Frank Martin's doghouse, and was bench for the season's first three games due to practice habits Martin deemed lackadaisical. He's back and has given the Wildcat's a boost since.
The Cougars, at 5-0, are looking for a signature win after easily dispatching lesser teams thus far. With Kansas State coming to town Friday night and Gonzaga visiting next Wednesday, Washington State faces an early make or break week of hoops. The Cougs were impressive last time out, demolishing Sacramento State at home, 84-36. Kansas State, however, presents the first real challenge for the Cougars in a season of high expectations.
Washington State is led by junior Klay Thompson. The All-Pac-10 first-teamer is plowing through the non-conference schedule again this year, averaging 22.2 points per game. For his efforts, Thompson was named the Pac-10 player of the week last week.
The Cougars haven't been playing with a full compliment of weapons this season, with both Reggie Moore and DeAngelo Casto missing time due to injury. Moore has been dealing with a slightly fractured wrist and is questionable to play tonight. If he is able to go, the sophomore point guard will wear a protective splint. Casto, on the other hand, sprained his foot and has missed the last two games. At last check, he was out of the walking boot he'd been wearing and will play tonight. The Cougars will need all the weapons they can get against a talented Kansas State squad.
Washington State and Kansas State tip-off Friday night at 8 p.m. on FSN. Students began lining up for the game early this afternoon and the environment at Beasley Coliseum should be electric. We'll be there live, covering all the action, so check back for more around game-time.