Washington St. Cougars vs. Idaho Vandals Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 6th 2023

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Washington State welcomes nine newcomers this season, including one player from Idaho, which will play at Pullman, Wash., on Monday night in the Battle of the Palouse.

The two schools, separated by eight miles, took a season off in their longstanding rivalry last season. They will meet for the 278th time, with Washington State leading the series 167-110.

Isaac Jones, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, averaged 19.4 points and 7.8 rebounds a game last season for the Vandals and is among the players who will experience the rivalry.

Kyle Smith, entering his fifth season as Washington State’s head coach, plans to play a big lineup of Jones, 6-11 junior college transfer Oscar Cluff and 6-11 true freshman Rueben Chinyelu of Nigeria at the same time.

“They’re guys that really can play inside-out,” Smith said. “It’s OK if opponents are watching us. There’s no hiding it. They’re big.”

The Cougars finished 17-17 last season with a first-round exit in the postseason National Invitation Tournament.

Andrej Jakimovski, a senior forward, is the lone returning starter.

Kansas fifth-year senior transfer Joseph Yesufu, who averaged 12.7 minutes per game for Bill Self’s team last season, will be the starting point guard for Smith.

“We’re just gonna keep feeding the posts, because they’re dominant, like they showed in practice,” Yesufu said of the Cougars’ tall lineup.

Washington State’s other transfer is former Division II All-American wing forward Jaylen Wells from Sonoma State. Wells shot 44 percent from 3-point range last season and averaged 22.4 points per game on his way to being named the California Collegiate Athletic Association Player of the Year.

Idaho has 12 new players on its roster in Alex Pribble’s first season as head coach.

Pribble is a former associate head coach at Seattle. He was hired in March to replace Zac Claus, who was fired in February after a 28-88 record in four seasons.

Idaho went 10-22 last year.

“The biggest hurdle is the perception of where Idaho has been the past few years,” Pribble said. “Coaching basketball, I call it a belief-building business.

“We believe that we can do something special, and we’ll have to prove that to people around us, prove that to the fans that we believe strongly in what we’re capable of.”

Pribble will rely on Division II and junior college transfers to lay the foundation for rebuilding the program.

They include guards D’Angelo Minnis (Western Washington) and Quinn Denker (Cal State San Marcos) and forwards Julius Mims (North Idaho College) and Kyson Rose (Walla Walla Community College).

–Field Level Media

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