WSU (15-6, 6-4 in Pac-12) led by as much as 13 in the second half before Colorado (15-6, 6-4) put together a run to close within three with under two minutes to play. Myles Rice helped separate the Cougs with two clutch layups and Isaac Jones put the nail in the coffin with a game sealing and-one.
Despite Rice and Jones heroics late, the dynamic duo scored just a combined seven points in the first half and neither got on the board for the first 14 minutes of game time. Even without scoring contributions from their two leading scorers, WSU built a lead up to eight early with a pair of Andrej Jakimovski triples. The Buffs responded with a 12-4 run as WSU’s offense began to cool off, but after Jones’ first bucket (a dunk) and a pair of Kymany Houinsou free throws, Jakimovski capped off WSU’s run with his third trey of the game.
Jaki needed to cash some checks and the bank is open! He trails for the easy transition three and cracks a smile with the straight-away bank shot.#GoCougs // #CVE // @Pac12Network pic.twitter.com/dzOB2btGQ7— Washington State Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarsMBB) January 27, 2024
In Colorado’s last three games the Buffs had scored 86, 90 and 90. If there was any offense that could explode any moment and steal the lead away, it was this one. However, what the Buffs hadn’t seen in those three games was Rueben Chinyelu. The 6’11 freshman made it hard for Colorado to score inside with a pair of blocks in the first half and one more in the second to kickstart a fastbreak finished off by his frontcourt counterpart, Jones.
Battle of the freshmen as CU's Cody Williams thinks he has a line to the rim. @am_rueben does not care and he's on pace to absolutely shatter the freshman season block record.#GoCougs // #CVE // @Pac12Network pic.twitter.com/Ajnf7CDR6i— Washington State Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarsMBB) January 27, 2024
While Chinyelu was anchoring the defensive end, Jaylen Wells was quietly putting together a great offensive game with a trio of inside buckets to help put WSU up double-digits. Isaiah Watts gave WSU their largest lead of the game at 13 with a bigtime trey that got Beasley rocking. The game started to feel a lot like WSU’s last game where they turned separation into an even bigger run for the blowout win over Utah. Yet, that Buffalo offense wouldn’t go the way of Utah and began climbing back.
Tristan da Silva cashed a trey and a layup to get the ball rolling and KJ Simpson took over from there with a personal 7-0 run to bring Colorado back within a possession. On Simpson’s run, he shot four throws as the whistle began to sound a little more frequently on contact than earlier in the game. Two of Simpson’s charity stripe shots came after Kyle Smith was whistled for a technical for being outraged over what may have been a missed goaltending call.
Jones interrupted Simpson’s run with an inside bucket, but for the fourth time in six Buffalo possessions, the Buffs shot a pair of free throws to keep the deficit at three.
Nearing a minute left in the game and up just a possession, WSU put the ball into the hands of their clutch guard Rice, who came through yet again, slicing through the defense and gliding to the bucket for a finger roll layup to put WSU back up five.
Rice again delivered on the next possession after a Buffaloes miss to put WSU up seven with 39 ticks left. Simpson gave Colorado a pulse with a desperation three, but Jones slammed the door on the Buffs with a beautiful spin move to create space, draw the foul and finish the bucket for the game ending and-one.
The win now ties WSU for fourth in the Pac-12 standings and gives them their third Quad 1 victory of the season. With a big sweep of two Quad 1 opponents under their belt, WSU will head across the state next weekend for the first meeting of this years Apple Cup on Saturday.