The Washington State Cougars remain undefeated in the season, pulling away from the Idaho State Bengals in the second half, defeating them 83-62.
Robert Franks continued his dominant start and led all scorers with 25 points on 10 of 15 from the field, a career high. Franks also pulled in 9 rebounds and 8 assists, nearly becoming the first Cougar to record a triple double since Kyle Weaver ten years ago. The Cougs also netted 15 points from Malachi Flynn and 14 from Arinze Chidom.
Balint Mocsan led the Bengals with 21 points, including three three-pointers. There were portions of the first half where Mocsan kept Idaho State in this game nearly singlehandedly.
The first half of the game saw eight lead changes with neither team leading by more than 4 points after the Bengals countered WSU’s 10-2 start. Franks did a little of everything in the first half, with 14 points and five boards along with 100% shooting from inside the three-point line and led the Cougs to their first halftime lead of the season at 35-31.
Carter Skaggs-mania looked like it may continue its crazy ride from Wednesday night after he hit a corner three on his second possession of the game after checking in, but couldn’t find another shot for the remainder of the half.
The Second half started slow, but turned into a three-point competition around the thirteen-minute mark, as Skaggs, Chidom and Franks traded shots with Mocsan, with six total threes made among the group over a three-minute span.
The Cougs finally pulled ahead for good with about ten minutes to play as Milan Acquaah made a breakaway dunk and Flynn dropped a transition three to go up 13. Mocsan tried to keep it interesting with a run of his own, but Flynn and Franks hit two more consecutive threes to force Idaho State to call timeout and they never threatened again.
A Few observations
- I’m pretty sure if you were to create an athlete in the lab whose sole job was to man the top of a 1-3-1 zone, he would look a lot like Arinze Chidom. ISU got out to a 13-2 run to take the lead early and Coach Kent moving to the zone with Chidom on top closed passing lanes and stopped the run in its tracks.
- I’m excited to see if Franks can keep this up against teams that aren’t hovering around KenPom’s 300 level.
- I’m guessing a great deal of this is adjusted to the level of opponent, but I was impressed with WSU’s shot selection this afternoon. Rarely was anything forced and WSU performed a delicate balance of being patient enough to find their shot, yet not afraid to pull one early if they found an open look.
The Cougs will leave Pullman next week for the Wooden Classic in Fullerton, CA and will first meet St. Joseph’s. The Haws are ranked 70th by Ken Pomeroy’s laptop, so the competition will be ramped up considerably.