As whatever hope there was for this season continues to slip away, perhaps it was fitting that the final game of WSU’s annual trip to the mountains ended under an avalanche — of both turnovers and transition points — as the Cougars lost to the Colorado Buffaloes 81-49 in Boulder.
It was just three weeks ago that WSU beat Colorado at home, moving the Cougars to 3-4 in the Pac-12 while dropping the Buffaloes to a nearly inexplicable 0-7 in the league.
Since then — including the Cougs’ 32-point loss tonight, fueled by a whopping 24 turnovers — the Buffs are 5-1, the Cougs are 1-5, and CU has moved ahead of WSU in the Pac-12 standings.
It was a continuation of a bizarre non-pattern of unpredictably bad performances by Ernie Kent’s senior-laden squad. After coming within a missed 3-point in the final minute of taking NCAA tournament-bound Utah to overtime, the Cougs literally threw away whatever chance they had of an upset win against the Buffs.
WSU is actually one of the best teams in the conference at taking care of the ball, yet they had 11 turnovers in the first 12 minutes. However, the Cougs somehow were only down three, 20-17, after a Charles Callison 3-pointer.
But as the Cougars were unable to stop turning the ball over, it was only a matter of time before Colorado made them pay. The Buffs proceeded to go on a 13-0 run over the next 3:21 to take control of the game, during which ESPNU flashed the following graphic:
Colorado went into the break leading by 13, but it only got worse after halftime for WSU:
WSU starts the half with 3-straight turnovers, trails Colorado, 44-24 with 18:42 to go in the game. #gocougs— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUMensHoops) February 13, 2017
Not mentioned: All three turnovers were on post entry passes with minimal pressure, leading to a pair of fast break layups and a transition 3-pointer. As I said on twitter, it was the worst 75 seconds of basketball I have ever seen, and I have watched a lot of bad basketball in my life.
The game was all but over at that point, however, Colorado wanted to leave nothing to chance; after Robert Franks drained a 3 to pull WSU within 18 with just under 15 minutes to go, the Buffs went on a 19-5 run over the next seven minutes to lead by 32 with 5 minutes to play and turn it into a laugher.
In case you’re curious, it truly takes a team effort to get to 24 turnovers (which, unsurprisingly, was a season high for WSU and most since 25 turnovers against Kansas State in 2009):
- Josh Hawkinson: 6
- Malachi Flynn: 4
- Charles Callison: 4
- Ike Iroegbu: 3
- K.J. Langston: 3
- Viont’e Daniels: 1
- Conor Clifford: 1
Probably worth mentioning that WSU had seven fewer made field goals (17) than turnovers. Franks was the only player to score in double figures — with 10 — and he also had zero turnovers, which I guess makes him the game MVP or something.
The Cougars are back at it on Thursday against top-10 Arizona in Pullman at 6 p.m. They’ve tended to follow pitiful performances with surprisingly strong ones, so maybe it’ll go better than you think.