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Talkin’ Tall Firs: The Evergreen State Road Trip

Washington State and Washington are two teams not to take lightly

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament Final-Oregon vs Washington Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The #8 Ducks (14-3, 3-1) are riding a three-game winning streak into their second conference road trip. A successful week in PAC-12 play will move Oregon up in the AP Poll as #3 Duke, #4 Auburn, and #5 Butler all lost earlier in the week.

The Ducks are also trying to stay in the PAC-12 title race with the lone undefeated team in the conference, Stanford (4-0).

Washington State (10-7, 1-3)

First-year head coach Kyle Smith has brought his hard work ethic from the University of San Francisco to Pullman. Unfortunately, injuries have been plaguing this team as of late. Starting point guard Jaylen Shead, a transfer from Texas State, is likely done for the season with a hip injury. Forward Deion James, a graduate transfer from Colorado State, was diagnosed with a rare heart infection and was ruled out for the season. Guard Marvin Cannon is out with an ankle injury that will likely cause him to miss another 3-4 weeks. This puts a lot more pressure on the remaining nine guys to be solid for the Cougars and play longer spurts against a quick, relentless Oregon squad.

Wins - Seattle, Idaho State, Old Dominion, @ Idaho, New Mexico State, UC Riverside, Florida A&M, Incarnate Word, Arkansas Pine-Bluff, UCLA

Losses - @ Santa Clara, Omaha, Nebraska, Colorado State, USC, @ California, @ Stanford

KenPom Ranking - #151

Key Numbers:

  • 71.5 points per game
  • 37.7 rebounds per game
  • 11.4 assists per game
  • 2.4 blocks per game
  • 6.7 steals per game
  • 66.8 points allowed per game
  • 39.7 field goal percentage

Player to Watch For:

CJ Elleby, Sophomore - 18.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.0 SPG

A star in the making. CJ is 5th in scoring and 4th in steals in the PAC-12. The leftie has good size for the guard position at 6’6”, 200 pounds. He’s a crafty scorer and does it in a multitude of different ways. Elleby is NBA bound.

Game Time:

#8 Oregon @ Washington State - 9:00 PM ET, FS1 on Thursday, January 16th

Score Prediction:

81-72, Ducks over Cougars

Washington Huskies (11-6, 1-3)

Arguably, one of the best frontcourts in the nation lies in Seattle with Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels. After a great start for the Huskies while beating then #16 Baylor to open the season and only losing by 7 to then #9 Gonzaga, PAC-12 play has proven to be a bit too much for the young members of the team. The Huskies lose to a bad UCLA team at home and dropped two games in the Bay Area road trip. McDaniels and Stewart need to turn it up a whole ‘nother notch if they want any chance of receiving an at-large bid.

Wins - #16 Baylor, Mount Saint Mary’s, Maine, Montana, San Diego, South Dakota, Eastern Washington, Seattle, Ball State, Hawaii, USC

Losses - Tennessee, #9 Gonzaga, Houston, UCLA, @ California, @ Stanford

KenPom Ranking - #46

Key Numbers:

  • 71.6 points per game
  • 36.2 rebounds per game
  • 12.9 assists per game
  • 6.4 blocks per game
  • 7.4 steals per game
  • 62.8 points allowed per game
  • 45.8 field goal percentage

Player to Watch For:

Jaden McDaniels, Freshman - 13.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.0 SPG

This is your prototypical NBA wing player that is long and can stretch the floor with his three-point range ability. I would like him to learn from his fellow frontcourt member Isaiah Stewart and become a bit more physical when attacking the rim. If he does so, McDaniels could have a lot of NBA teams drooling over him in the upcoming draft.

Game Time:

#8 Oregon @ Washington- 3:45 PM ET, CBS on Saturday, January 18th

Score Prediction:

74-71, Huskies over Ducks

*Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho