About Last Night: WSU falls to Colorado after late implosion

If it feels like you've seen this movie before ...

Good morning. As time allows for the rest of this season, I’ll whip up some quick thoughts on the previous night’s game.

Onward!

The Cougs closed up their final Pac-12 mountain road trip ever with a competitive, but ultimately futile, 74-67 loss at Colorado.

WSU didn’t play well out of the gate, turning the ball over a bunch and falling behind by 11 just 11 minutes into the game. But Andrej Jakimovski buried a trio of treys in 90 seconds to close the gap to just four at the under-4 minute timeout. An Isaac Jones layup with 20 seconds to go in the half seemed poised to send the Cougs into the locker room down just 7, but a Colorado and-1 with just two seconds to go put the margin back to double digits, and it felt like maybe this was all just too much.

But the Cougs kept battling, and Colorado kinda refused to take hold of the game, content to let WSU hand around. The Cougars walked the lead all the way down to 1 point with 3:24 remaining in the game, and it seemed like they had a very real chance of stealing a huge road win against a very good Colorado team that was missing a couple of its best players.

The Buffs went on a 9-0 for the next three minutes to put it away, with only an Oscar Cluff 3-pointer at the buzzer keeping the final margin under 10.

In A Minute

  • CougCenter recap

  • Stats

  • Highlights

  • Line o’ the night: Andrej Jakimovski doing his best Michael Jordan, clearly having read what I wrote about him and his poor shooting: 19 points, 4-of-6 on 3s. It wasn’t just that he hit four — he hit all four when the Cougs really needed them. They had a chance in this one largely because of him.

  • One stat to tell the tale: Colorado made 22 free throws. WSU shot eight.

Three Thoughts

1. Groundhog’s Day

Thirteen trips to Boulder — 12 while in the Pac-12 — zero wins. And unlike Utah, the Cougs have often been competitive against the Buffs. And yet, we always seem to find a way to lose. The manner in which this one fell apart was eerily familiar to Friday’s game in Salt Lake City. It just happened a bit later in the contest.

After closing the gap to 1, here’s what the Cougs did with the ball:

  • Turnover

  • Blocked shot

  • Turnover

  • Turnover

As much as I say “I was always chalking up these two games as losses,” and as much as it’s logical to do so, I also am sympathetic to fans who are tired of this happening. It’s kind of exhausting.

2. Guard problems

Without Joseph Yesufu (injured) and with Dylan Darling apparently off the radar, the rotation in the backcourt is really, really shorthanded. That’s not always a problem, but it was an issue yesterday with Myles Rice in foul trouble. That meant spot minutes for Isaiah Watts, who was fine, but he’s not going to make a difference for you unless he hits a couple of threes, which he didn’t do yesterday.

More problematic is that without Yesufu, the team lacks another slasher and really struggles to contain penetration on the perimeter. Rice is struggling a bit at the moment offensively (no surprise as teams start to pile up tape and scout his tendencies) and Yesufu would take some of that burden off. One also has to imagine that if Yesufu had been playing yesterday, KJ Simpson doesn’t score 13 of his 34 points at the line. I don’t know what his situation is, but a return doesn’t seem imminent.

3. Good riddance

Let us never schedule a game in Salt Lake City or Boulder ever again.

Up Next

Thursday: vs. Oregon State, 8 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network (84% kenpom

Saturday: vs. Oregon, 7 p.m. PT, ESPNU

This weekend is where the Cougs get to prove whether they’re actually serious about making a legitimate run to the NCAAs. After losing both of those games, the team’s tourney odds on barttorvik.com really haven’t changed much.

Win both of these games at home, you’re 2-2 in conference and holding a win over a similarly ranked team that could be a potential separator come March. The wins wouldn’t move the needle a whole lot in terms of making a resume, and a loss to Oregon wouldn’t be disastrous, but if you don’t win both, you put yourself in a bit of a hole that you need to make up.

This team needs to grab hold of its opportunities. This weekend is one.

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