Cougars and Bulldogs Square off in In-State Rivalry

The annual showdown for Eastern Washington basketball superiority will tip off tonight-in Spokane as the 13th ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs host the Washington State Cougars. The Zags needed a last second lay-up by Kevin Pangos to secure a 71-69 victory last year in Pullman, as the Cougars’ upset bid fell just short. That victory marked the best start (9-0) since Gonzaga began playing Division I college basketball, on the way to a season which saw the Bulldogs reach #1 in the AP Polls and secure a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, before bowing out with a third round upset at the hands of Wichita State. Today’s showdown with the Cougars marks the first game of the season against a major Division I foe for Mark Few’s Bulldogs.

Washington State

Washington State hopes to reverse last year’s struggles on the road, where they went 1-9, in this their first road game of the season. The Cougars also struggled against teams ranked in the Top 25, posting a 1-6 record, the lone victory coming in a 73-61 triumph against Pac-12 foe UCLA. Ken Bone has the Cougars off to a 2-0 start, with victories against Lamar and CSU Bakersfield, but will relish the opportunity to gauge themselves against what has become one of the premier programs in college basketball. “We have a lot of respect for (Gonzaga) and what they’ve done with their program, and again this year they’ve put together a great team,” Bone said. “It’s fun to go challenge yourself in sports against the best. At this point, they’re the best team we’ve played.” Gonzaga will have little success intimidating Washington State with their pedigree, as the Cougars have won three of the past seven match-ups in this rivalry game.

Tonight’s game is Gonzaga’s last tune-up before they travel to Hawaii to continue in the Maui Invitational. The Bulldogs kicked-off the illustrious tournament with a narrow home victory over an Oakland club that dressed only eight players, and entered the game 0-3, including two blowout losses to ranked foes. “That was good for us,” Few said. “That’s a really tough, hard-nosed team…they pushed us and challenged us and our guys responded and kept their composure and ended up getting it done.”

The Zags will count on the continued leadership of guards Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr., and David Stockton, son of Gonzaga’s most decorated basketball alum, NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton, as they resume their march in the Maui Invitational that they hope will put them on a collision course with Top 25 foes Baylor and Syracuse in the ensuing rounds.

Odds & Ends

The Best Sports Betting Sites for USA Players have the Gonzaga Bulldogs laying 15.5 points on The Cougars. The Over/Under Bettors are seeing the total listed at one hundred forty-three.

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