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WSU vs. UCLA: Anatomy of an upset

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To pull off a win against the odds, some things really have to go right. A bunch of them did for the Cougars last night.

I've just been looking for an excuse to use this picture.
I've just been looking for an excuse to use this picture.
USA TODAY Sports

The cool thing about upsets is that they are spurred on by some sort of unpredictable occurrence. After all, a predictable result would not be an upset, right?

It's one of the reasons why we watch sports -- the reason why those few hundred students decided it wasn't too much effort to walk 10 minutes to Beasley Coliseum last night, and it's why their faith in the possibilities inherent in any sporting contest was rewarded for one evening.

How odd was last night? Here's a sampling of the out-of-the-ordinary stuff that took place to make last night's win possible.

All five WSU starters played more than 30 minutes. Brock Motum and Royce Woolridge went tip to buzzer, while Dexter Kernich-Drew played 39 minutes, Will DiIorio played 36 and D.J. Shelton played 32. Only two other players saw the floor -- Junior Longrus (8 minutes) and Bryce Leavitt (5 minutes).

Those five starters accounted for 60 of WSU's 63 possessions on offense. The other three? Junior with a put-back and Leavitt and Junior each with a turnover. That was it.

Just so we're clear: WSU beat UCLA with Kernich-Drew and DiIorio combining for 75 minutes. I just wanted to make sure this is being given the proper amount of attention. Mike Ladd and DaVonte Lacy normally combine to use about 2 out of every 5 possessions, and Motum and Woolridge used about what they normally do. That means the burden fell to Kernich-Drew, DiIorio and Shelton. And WSU beat UCLA that way.

The Cougars normally shoot 3s on about 40 percent of their field goal attempts, but last night, WSU shot only 12 -- a paltry 21 percent. They made only three of those 12, missing both attempts in the second half. And they beat UCLA. Soundly.

Instead, WSU took a ton of 2s -- 45, to be exact -- and made a stellar 56 percent. WSU was making less than 45 percent of the relatively few 2s they took in Pac-12 play up until that point. Even Shelton, who has made just 36 percent of his twos this year, got in on the action by making 5 of 7. And they weren't even all dunks!

The 2-point attempts weren't your garden-variety midrange jumpers, either: WSU scored 44 points in the paint. This might be my favorite tweet I've seen in some time.

When they did miss, the Cougars picked up 62 percent of the available offensive rebounds. For context: Normal for WSU in Pac-12 play is 31 percent, and the previous high this season was 52 percent against Idaho State. UCLA had given up less than 37 percent.

UCLA scored just four points in transition all night. I don't know what their average is, but I know it's got to be more than four. Oddly enough, it's incredibly difficult to run when the other team keeps grabbing their own misses and then putting them back in the basket.

The Cougars took 11 free throws in the final 5:30. They made nine of them. They also made 14 of 19 overall. WSU normally shoots 68 percent.

This last one is a little geeky. When WSU led 7-0 with just three minutes gone, Ken Pomeroy's win probability officially swung the Cougars' way. It never crossed back over to UCLA, and WSU spent the majority of the game above 75 percent, including all but about three minutes of the second half.

That was fun. We should do it more often!