USA TODAY Sports
It wasn't pretty, but WSU managed to avoid the upset against Jackson State on Thursday.
Maybe it was the effect of playing a game during finals week. Maybe it was just the result of everyone having off nights. Whatever it was, Washington State's 52-41 win against Jackson State was about as ugly as it gets.
Jackson State is one of the worst teams in the country (No. 330 in KemPom) and yet for much of Thursday's game WSU was in danger of losing to the Tigers. The Cougars couldn't shoot, couldn't rebound and couldn't protect the ball. If they weren't playing one of the worst teams in the country, they likely lose in blowout fashion.
The struggles began in the first half. WSU led 26-21 at halftime, but that was only thanks to 14 points from Brock Motum. WSU made just 1 of 12 three-point attempts in the first half while turning it over nine times. The second half wasn't much better as WSU continued to clank three-point attempts while also being careless with the ball. Jackson State led with a little over 13 minutes to play, but wen't into a prolonged scoring drought which allowed WSU to finally gain some separation.
Motum finished with 27 points, including a number of key baskets down the stretch. WSU continued to take three-point attempts, despite not having much success, and finished 3 of 18 from three-point range. If there was one bright spot, it was the Cougars' defense. Jackson State shot just 24.1 percent from the field. Junior Longrus also had possibly the block of the season, rejecting a Jackson State dunk attempt.
WSU was able to avoid becoming the first Pac-12 team to lose to SWAC team, but that win did not inspire much confidence as Pac-12 play nears. I would love to chalk it up to finals week and be happy to get out with a win, but playing down to competition is becoming a trend. Hopefully WSU's shooters find their three-point strokes before the Cougar Hardwood Classic against Buffalo.