The Utah Runnin' Utes lived up to their name tonight as they used the transition game to complement sharp execution in the half court to pull away from WSU early and never look back, more or less cruising to an 81-63 victory.
The Cougars have been the second worst defense in the Pac-12 on a per possession basis, and that didn't change tonight -- Utah scored those 81 points on just 64 possessions, and made it look relatively easy for most of the night. They shared the basketball expertly against WSU's frequently befuddled defense, getting open look after open look as Utah finished with six players in double figures and had 17 assists on 29 baskets.
Yes, there was some unreasonably hot shooting from the Utes, who at one point in the second half were 7-of-13 from three-point range. But the more telling stat was the 42 points in the paint scored by Utah. Ten of those came in transition, while most of the other 32 came from Utah big men Jeremy Olsen and Dallin Bachynski, each of whom had 10 points by alternately abusing Junior Longrus, Josh Hawkinson and Jordan Railey.
If you're looking for any kind of silver lining, it's that the offense once again was not terrible with DaVonte Lacy back in the lineup. He scored another 22 points on just 15 shots, and D.J. Shelton contributed 19 points on 16 shots. In three games since Lacy's return, the Cougs are scoring 1.04 points per possession
The downside, of course, is that it could be even better if the Cougars were getting any kind of production from anyone else. Que Johnson hasn't yet figured out how to score when sharing the floor with Lacy, and Royce Woolridge continues his descent into oblivion, posting a zero -- ZERO! -- offensive rating in 18 minutes thanks to zero points, zero assists and one turnover.
The loss dropped WSU to 2-9 in conference play, but they will retain at least a tie for 11th place pending USC's game against UCLA. The Cougs return home to take on Cal on Wednesday and Stanford on Saturday. Kenpom.com projects WSU to have a less than 30 percent chance in each game.