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WSU Hosts UC Riverside Wednesday Night

Dec 4, 2023

WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS (6-1) vs UC RIVERSIDE HIGHLANDERS (4-5)
Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. PT
Pullman, Washington
Beasley Coliseum // 11,671
Radio Coverage
Matt Chazanow & Craig Ehlo
WSU Learfield Network
Television Coverage
Pac-12 Network & Washington
Greg Heister & Dan Dickau

OPENING FIVE
1. The Cougars continue a five-game homestand, Wednesday, Dec. 6, hosting the UC Riverside Highlanders for a 2 p.m. contest at Beasley Coliseum.
2. Myles Rice continued an incredible start to his freshman season, earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors after dropping a career-high 28 points in the win over EWU - Rice has scored in double figures in six of the first seven games and is WSU's leading scorer at 17.4 ppg
3. The Cougs boast a 50.2% field goal percentage, having shot over 50% five times this season - the mark is third in Pac-12 and 21st in the country, while holding opponents to 37.3%, 13th in Division-I
4. WSU is one of the best rim protection frontcourts in the country, averaging 6.7 blocks per game, tied for 4th in the country, while KenPom ranks WSU 2nd nationally in effective block percentage. All three primary frontcourt players have at least 10 blocks each (Chinyelu, Cluff, Jones)
5. Isaac Jones notched a second double-double with 27 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's win over PSU - Jones shoots at a 62.9% clip, second in the Conference

LAST TIME VS UC RIVERSIDE
The Cougars' defensive effort helped lead them to a 70-56 victory over UC Riverside Dec. 15, 2019, while forcing 23 turnovers. CJ Elleby scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting and had six rebounds and Jeff Pollard added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Cougars. Aljaz Kunc also had 13 points, two rebounds and two assists.

KYLE SMITH VS UC RIVERSIDE
WSU Head Coach Kyle Smith has coached against the Highlanders one time, in his first season as the Cougars' head coach. The Cougs won Dec. 15, 2019 in the third all-time meeting and second meeting in Pullman.

CURRENT ROSTER VS UC RIVERSIDE
Isaac Jones is the only current Cougar to face the Highlanders. Jones faced UCR with the Idaho Vandals last December, scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds, while dealing with foul trouble.

ABOUT UC RIVERSIDE
Head Coach: Mike Magpayo (4th season)
Conference: Big West
Mascot: Highlanders
Record: 4-5
Last Result: Win vs North Dakota (68-62)
Leading Scorer: Isaiah Moses (12.8)
Leading Rebounder: Kyle Owens & Jhaylon Martinez (4.7)

COUGARS VS HIGHLANDERS
Washington State hosts UC Riverside, Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at Beasley Coliseum. The Cougars hold a 2-1 all-time record against the Highlanders, most recently welcoming UCR to Pullman in Kyle Smith's first season on the Palouse. WSU defeated Riverside 70-56.Wednesday's meeting will mark the fourth all-time and third meeting in Pullman.

LAST TIME OUT // VS PORTLAND STATE
WSU 82 // PSU 72 // DEC. 2, 2023 // PULLMAN, WASH.

Isaac Jones scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, freshman Myles Rice scored 11 of his 19 points in the final 12 minutes, and Washington State held off Portland State 71-61 on Saturday afternoon. Rice and Jones took over in the second half, combining to score 18 of the Cougars' final 27 points. Rice started the run with a three-point play and followed it with a layup to take the lead. Jones hit from distance to put WSU in front by four. Kymany Houinsou's three-point play with 4:27 left made it 61-55 and Washington State closed out the game on a 10-6 run. Washington State finished shooting 28 of 55 from the field (50.9%) but was just 2 of 11 from behind the arc.

NEXT UP // GRAMBLING STATE
Washington State concludes its nonconference home schedule against Grambling State, Sunday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. The Cougars final home nonconference game, hosting the Tigers, marks the fourth all-time meeting against the Tigers and third in Pullman. WSU and GSU last met in November 2011 with WSU winning 69-37.

RICE NAMED PAC-12 FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Redshirt-freshman Myles Rice put together the best scoring performance of the year by a Coug in last Monday's win over Eastern Washington. The South Carolina native dropped 28 points after starting the game with 6-straight made 3-pointers and followed with 19 points in Saturday's win over PSU. The performance earned Rice his first career Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honor. Rice has scored in double figures in six of his first seven games and is WSU's leading scorer at 17.4 ppg. In Saturday's win, Rice grabbed a career high five rebounds and finished a perfect 5 of 5 at the free throw line, expanding his consecutive made free throw streak to 9, the longest by a Coug this season. Twice Rice has eclipsed 20 points, making him and USC's Isaiah Collier the only freshmen in the League with multiple 20-point performances.

NATIONAL RIM PROTECTORS
WSU has owned the height advantage early in nonconference play, boasting 47 blocks, 6.7 per game, to lead the Pac-12 Conference. The Cougars' average is tied for fourth nationally and the Cougs are ranked No. 2 in the country according to KenPom.com's effective block percentage. True freshman Rueben Chinyelu leads the Coug with 11 rejections. All three primary frontcourt players have at least 10 blocks each (Chinyelu, Cluff, Jones). In Saturday's win over Portland State, the Cougs swatted away a season-high 10 shots, marking the first time since March 2022 with 10+ blocks in a single game.

SMOOTH SHOOTING
The Cougars have gotten off to a hot start from the floor, shooting above .500 in five of their first seven games. Wazzu is third in the Pac-12 Conference with a .502 team field goal percentage, trailing No. 1 Arizona and Colorado in shooting, and ranks 21st in Division-I basketball. The Cougs have won every game shooting above .500 and also shot an eye-watering .652 from beyond the arc in a Nov. 24 win against Utah Tech, the best since making a school record 19 threes (.655) in last fall's win over Detroit Mercy.

TALENTED IN TRANSITION
Fast break points have been hard to come by for Wazzu's opponents with just 28 transition points all season. Wazzu is quick to get back on defense, outscoring opponents in fast break opportunities 8.9 to 4.0 points in transition per game.

GETTING PAINT TOUCHES
Kyle Smith has made it clear the Cougs thrive when everyone on the team gets paint touches. Through six games, Wazzu has outscored its opponents 288 to 168 in the key. Against Rhode Island, WSU scored a season-high 52 points in the paint and twice has scored 50+ points in the key. The Cougars are getting over 50% of their scoring from inside the key (41.1 points per game), while holding opponents to an average 24.0 points in the paint per game.

JONES JOINS DOUBLE-DOUBLE CLUB
Fifth-year senior transfer Isaac Jones registered his second Cougar double-double in last Saturday's win over Portland State, scoring 27 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. The Spanaway, Washington native led the Cougars in rebounding both games last week and ranks fifth in the Pac-12 with 7.9 rebounds per game.

JAK IS BACK
Senior Andrej Jakimovski returned as the Cougars' only 4-year veteran and entered the season fully healthy for the first time since his freshman year. Jakimovski exploded for a game-high 21 points in the season opener, one shy of his career high. The North Macedonian made his 90th game appearance and started his 50th career game against Utah Tech, Nov 24. He made five 3-pointers for the second time in his career and became the first Coug with five triples in a single game since Justin Powell made five at UCLA last February. Jakimovski scored 20 points for the second time this season and the third time in his career.

CLUFF FINDS HIS FOOTING
Junior college transfer Oscar Cluff found his footing in the second game of the season, exploding for 17 points and five rebounds. The Australian center shot a perfect 5 of 5 from the floor, and finished 7 of 8 from the free throw line.

WINNING THE GLASS BATTLE
The Cougars have used their height advantage on the defense glass to hold opponents to an average of 8.4 second-chance points per game. WSU boasts a +7.6 rebounding margin and scores 12.6 second chance points per game.

MYLES' MIRACLE RETURN
Redshirt-freshman Myles Rice waited two seasons on the sideline before getting to play his first college basketball game. After redshirting his true freshman year during 2021-22, Rice was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma prior to the 2022-23 season and underwent chemotherapy treatment throughout the academic year. Last spring, Myles received his last chemotherapy treatment and was declared in remission. The Columbia, S.C. native got the starting nod in the season opener and played 29 minutes in the win.

KYLE STARTING WITH SUCCESS
Kyle Smith is the first head coach in Washington State men's basketball history to finish with a .500+ record in his first four seasons on the Palouse. Tony Bennett posted three-consecutive winning seasons before leaving the program.

WATTS WORKS INTO LINEUP
True freshman Isaiah Watts played 10 minutes off the bench in WSU's win over Idaho, marking his collegiate debut. The Washington native made two crucial 3-pointers in the contest, finishing with six points, one rebound and a blocked shot. Watts matched his early career high with six points in the win against Utah Tech.

HOMEGROWN ROSTER
The Cougars boast six student-athletes on the 2023-24 roster from the state of Washington, including three former Washington State Players of the Year. Senior Jabe Mullins was named the WIAA 4A Player of the Year in 2020, followed by sophomore Dylan Darling in 2022, and incoming freshman Parker Gerrits last spring.

HOME SWEET HOME
Washington State will complete its entire nonconference schedule without a true road game. WSU will host seven nonconference games at Beasley Coliseum, while participating in four neutral-site games before kicking off conference play. The scheduling quirk marks the first time since the 2020-21 season that the Cougars do not play a true nonconference road game.

TWO COUGS SIGN TO PLAY FOR WAZZU
WSU announced two new Cougars who signed National Letters of Intent to play college basketball in Pullman next fall. Evan Stinson signed as the No. 2 prospect in Washington State, a small forward from Cheney, Washington. Marcus Wilson, a native of Albuquerque, signed as a combo guard currently competing at highly-regarded Bella Vista Prep.

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Get all the info, photos, and videos a true Coug Fan could want by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (WSUCougarMBB).