for this game

Cougars aim to build on surprising success

Nov 9, 2007 - 3:58 PM Eastern Wash (0-0) at No. 10 Washington St (0-0) 9:30 pm EST

PULLMAN, Washington (Ticker) -- As Washington State embarks on another season, they will deal with something they are not used to - expectations.

The 10th-ranked Cougars look to justify their highest preseason ranking in school history when they host Eastern Washington on Friday.

After surprising most observers with a school-record 26 victories and notching their first NCAA Tournament win since 1993, the Cougars enter this season full of optimism.

With four returning starters - including guards and first team all-conference selections Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver, Washington State is expected to improve on last season's finish that saw them exit in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.

Low and Weaver were the only players to average double figures in points for Washington State, averaging 13.7 and 11.2, respectively. Despite scoring just 66.9 points per game, the Cougars were among the nation's best in scoring defense (59.5) and turnovers (10.4).

For the Eagles, Kirk Earlywine will assume the reigns of a Division I program for the first time in his 21-year coaching career in what will be Eastern Washington's 100th season of men's basketball.

He will sorely miss 2007 first-round draft pick Rodney Stuckey, who was selected 15th overall by the Detroit Pistons after a wonderful two-year career with the Eagles in which he averaged 24.4 points per game. Instead, he will forced to count on forward Kellen Williams, who is the leading returning scorer for Eastern Washington at 8.4 points per game, in the early going.

This is the first time the intrastate rivals are meeting since 1998. The Cougars lead the all-time series 50-11, and have won 18 of the last 19 games between the teams.

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    EASTERN WASH 19 22 41
    WASHINGTON ST (10) 31 37 68 FINAL

    Nov 9 11:17 PM


    Nov 9 10:19 PM