Mon, 08 Mar 2021

Washington State, Utah look to break out of slumps

Field Level Media
21 Jan 2021, 08:40 GMT+10

Washington State is coming off a 1-3 road trip and Utah is coming off a 1-3 homestand.

One of the two has to improve Thursday night when they meet in a Pac-12 Conference contest in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougars are just 1-4 since an 8-0 start, including consecutive losses last week on their trip to the Southern California schools. After a 91-61 rout at UCLA on Jan. 14, they fell 85-77 Saturday night at USC.

Despite a game-high 27 points from Isaac Bonton, Washington State (9-4, 2-4) never led. It cut a 15-point second-half deficit down to four on two occasions down the stretch but couldn't stop the Trojans when it mattered.

"We got off to a slow start," said Cougars coach Kyle Smith. "We were playing catch-up and they're a very good team. We have to get back to defending better. We gave up some silly points in transition and we're turning the ball over way too much. For a team that takes pride in our defense, we're not defending well."

Washington State allows just 66 points per game, but permitted 88 per game during its trip to Southern California. That's too much for an offense scoring just 69.3 points and hitting only 41.4 percent from the field.

Bonton is averaging 18.9 points per game, while Noah Williams is adding 12.0.

As for Utah (5-6, 2-5), it is trying to pick up the pieces from a 72-63 home loss Saturday night to California, which entered the game with one conference win. The Utes presented the Golden Bears with their second after blowing a 12-point halftime lead and allowing 50 second-half points.

Wasted in the defeat was another outstanding performance from Timmy Allen. The junior collected a game-high 26 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists, boosting his averages to a team-best 17.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

"We can't take any team lightly," Allen said to the Deseret News after the loss to Cal. "We can't get complacent and we can't get comfortable. We are not good enough to do that."

One reason Utah is on the wrong side of .500 is that besides Allen, it has just one other double-figure scorer. That's Alfonso Plummer, who's hitting for 13 points.

--Field Level Media

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