Key statistics: The Shockers held BYU to six second-half baskets, none from behind the arc. BYU went 0 for 10 from three-point range in the second half after making 5 of 10 in the first half.
How the game turned: Darius Carter’s basket, bailing WSU out of a tough spot with the shot clock winding down, gave the Shockers a 68-61 lead with 1:30 to play. Ron Baker made six straight free throws in the final 45 seconds.
Records: WSU 7-0, BYU 5-2
- WSU defeated a good team without much inside scoring. How long can that continue? Kadeem Coleby, Chadrack Lufile and Darius Carter combined for 13 points on 5 of 13 shooting. BYU’s wings were able to play so far out and challenge shooters because WSU’s big men did not represent much of a threat. On Monday against DePaul, the bigs did a little better, combining for 17 points on 6 of 9 shooting. It is a guessing game for WSU coach Gregg Marshall each night on which post player is going to stay out of foul trouble, rebound and provide some offensive threat. As it stands, WSU doesn’t have a post who is a reliable threat to score outside of dunks, unless Cleanthony Early gets more use as a post-up player. The Shocker guards are good enough to compensate, and get the big men easy baskets, but they will need more help against the top teams on the schedule.
- Beating BYU figures to provide WSU its first good piece for an NCAA resume. The Cougars own a win over Stanford and lost a close game to Iowa State. They face Utah and Oregon and fast-rising UMass. BYU should compile a helpful RPI. “That’s a very tough ballgame against a very good basketball team,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “They will be in the NCAA tournament barring something unforeseen.”
- WSU’s defense dominated the post-game discussion, rightfully so after limiting a team that averaged 93.2 points to 26 in the second half on six baskets. The Shockers made some defensive switches (Tekele Cotton on Matt Carlino in the second half) that worked and blocked six shots (two by Baker). Nick Wiggins bottled up Tyler Haws on a crucial second-half possession. Cotton, naturally, excelled. He choked off Haws’ opportunities in the first half and cooled down Carlino after he scored 18 points in the first half. What stood out was Cotton’s closing speed on several plays. He is quick enough that he can pressure on the wing and recover to alter a shot even if the shooter gets past him. “It was a pretty physical game,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “I think that our guys did a pretty good job of trying to get space, but it closed down pretty quick.”
- Baker didn’t appear to take offense at the elbow from BYU’s Nate Austin late in the game. Officials hit Austin with a flagrant 2 foul which comes with an ejection. “I honestly don’t think he saw me crash (for a rebound) and he just went to box out and caught me with his right elbow right across the jaw,” Baker said. “It did kind of change the game a little bit.” Baker made two free throws with 45 seconds remaining to give WSU a 70-62 lead.
Next up: at Saint Louis, noon Sunday (CBS Sports Network)