Cougars to play ‘home game’ in Kennewick

  • By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press Writer
  • Friday, December 18, 2009 11:33pm
  • SportsSports

SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington State’s barnstorming tour across the Northwest continues Saturday, when the Cougars play Portland State in Kennewick, Wash.

The Cougars (8-2) last Saturday beat Air Force in Spokane. Next Tuesday they play Louisiana State in Seattle to conclude the non-conference season. All are technically home games, although they are being played on the road because WSU is closed for winter break and attendance at Friel Court would be small.

“It’s nice to go somewhere where there will be a decent draw,” said coach Ken Bone.

“It’s not a whole lot different than going on the road and playing in another venue,” Bone said. “It’s part of playing college basketball.”

But Bone acknowledged that it was unusual to have three such games in one season, and even more unusual to have them back-to-back-to-back.

To complicate matters, Portland State is the team Bone left after last season to become head coach of the Cougars. He said he has no mixed emotions about facing his former players.

“I enjoyed my time there. It’s a great group of kids,” Bone said. “I hope they win every game they play this year except this one.”

Given the high-powered Portland State offense that Bone took to consecutive NCAA tournaments, the Cougars may have to score a lot to win. Portland State (5-5) has been averaging nearly 80 points per game.

The offense is driven by guards Dominic Waters and Melvin Jones and forwards Jamie Jones and Phil Nelson.

“We hope to be able to be on them when they catch the ball and not give them a good look at the basket,” Bone said.

Washington State counters with Klay Thompson, who is third in the country with an average of 25.1 points per game. Freshman Reggie Moore has also been solid, averaging 13.5 points and 4.5 assists per game.

Meanwhile, WSU’s game against Louisiana State at KeyArena will be nationally broadcast by CBS College Sports Network. The Cougars and Tigers played last Dec. 27 in Baton Rouge and LSU rallied to win 64-52.

Washington State has the best record in the Pac-10 so far, in what is shaping up as a down year for the league. No. 21 Washington (6-2) and Arizona State (7-3) trail them.

The Cougars open Pac-10 play by hosting Oregon on Dec. 31 and Oregon State on Jan. 2.

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