On Sunday, December 11th at 2PM, in the first installment of the 2022-23 season’s Apple Cup, the (7-1) Washington Huskies will host their arch-rival (7-1) Washington State Cougars at Hec Ed.
Washington State is the higher scoring team, averaging 75.1 points per game versus 65.3 ppg by the Huskies.
WSU offense ranks as the 34th fastest pace in the nation versus than the Huskies’ ranking of 127th fastest.
Expect the Cougars to push the ball in transition to take advantage of a Washington defense that struggles defending in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock — UW allows 1.04 points per (early clock) possession which ranks in the bottom 29% nationwide.
Conversely, if the Huskies’ transition defense can prevent an early shot by the Cougars, their defensive success rate shoots up dramatically — ranking in the Top 20% nationwide.
Thus, the Washington Huskies must control and slow down the Cougars offense to win the game.
The Cougars are making 52.7% of their two-point shots (29th nationwide) versus the Huskies making 48.7% of their two-pointers (88th nationwide).
The shooting disparity between the Huskies and Cougars is even greater from three-point range.
WSU makes 33.1% of their three-pointers (ranking 100th nationally) versus 22.0% three-point shooting by the Huskies (ranking 341st nationwide).
The Cougars are most effective shooting straightaway “above the break” threes, making 35.8%.
The Huskies are allowing opponents to shoot 33.3% from three-point range (ranking 265th nationwide), which matches WSU’s overall three-point shooting average coming into the game.
Clearly, the Huskies must drastically improve their three-point defense against the Cougars to secure a victory.
On the other hand, the Cougars are allowing opponents to shoot 28% from three-point range (ranking 76th nationally) – which would be a drastic improvement over the Huskies usual 22% but still not a great result.
It is unlikely the Huskies will be able make up any deficiency in three-point defense with their own three-pointers on offense.
The Washington Huskies are the superior rebounding team — UW averages 45.1 total rebounds (ranking 13th in the nation) versus WSU’s 38.4 total rebounds per game (ranking 119th).
UW excels at offensive rebounding, grabbing 17.0 offensive rebounds per game (12th nationally) versus the Cougars grabbing 11.9 offensive rebounds per game (161st nationwide).
The teams are much closer on the defensive boards – UW averages 28.1 defensive rebounds versus 26.5 by the Cougars.
The Huskies have a clear advantage on the offensive boards and must use this to generate put-backs and second chance opportunities to make up for any lack of effectiveness from three-point range.
If the Huskies can control the boards and score inside they will have an opportunity to secure a victory, despite the expected three-point barrage by the Cougars.