The game was tied at 11 before WSU suffered from the One Bad Stretch that coach Ernie Kent laments, like, every game: A 15-0 run that put the Utes out of reach before the game was even 13 minutes old.
Utah led 44-24 at halftime, and then Another Bad Stretch out of the break pushed Utah’s lead to 30 with 14 minutes to go in the game.
The focus is almost always on the offense when a team loses, particularly when WSU’s best offensive player continues to miss games. And Ernie wasn’t wrong when he said on the radio after the game, “The shooting night has nothing to do with their defense, it has everything to do with us taking ourselves out of rhythm” — after all, the Utes have the 275th ranked unit in adjusted defensive efficiency and had given up 1.07 points per possession in each of the last three games before giving up just 0.95 in this one.
However, the defense shouldn’t suffer as greatly in the absence of one player, and yet the Cougs gave up 85 or more points for the third consecutive game as six different Utes scored in double figures. WSU is last in the conference in defensive efficiency by a wide, wide margin.
CJ Elleby got in foul trouble early again and the offense just had no idea where to turn without Robert Franks or Elleby on the floor. But the freshman had a nice second half, scoring 20 points after the break for a total of 22. He also had three rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Isaiah Wade was the only other Coug in double figures. He scored 12 points on 10 two-point shots.
WSU has its best chance on Thursday to get a Pac-12 win as the California Golden Bears come to town. They’re ranked even lower than WSU in kenpom.com’s adjusted efficiency margin, and the Cougs are given a 65 percent chance of winning the game.
One way or another, someone is going to get their first Pac-12 win on Thursday!