If you can't win at Beasley (the Cougs have lost back-to-back nonconference games at home for the first time since 1985)...take your game to Seattle. That's the lesson the Washington State men's basketball team learned yesterday.
The Cougars rolled in the fourth annual Cougar Hardwood Classic against Montana State. WSU started hot, allowed a small Bobcat run, and then cruised the rest of the way in front of 7,848 fans at KeyArena (not a bad turnout for a snowy night in Seattle). The end result: a 70-51 win for Wazzu (to remain undefeated in the Hardwood Classic).
WSU needed a victory. They'd lost three (all against ranked teams) of their last four, including Wednesday's pounding to Gonzaga (the worst loss in the Tony Bennett Era). The win against Montana State is exactly what the doctor ordered.
The Cougar offense exploded Saturday night. After shooting just 35% in their previous two games (17-for-45 against Baylor; 17-for-52 against the Zags), Washington State couldn't miss against the Bobcats. WSU shot 58% from the field (28-48); including 6-12 from beyond the arc (the Cougs were 2-of-19 against GU).
I've been really impressed with DeAngelo Casto lately. He was the only player who showed up (with the exception of Caleb Forrest...I'll get to him in a second) against Gonzaga. Then, he was electrifying again last night (the dude is a ball of energy). He scored eight points (on 4-of-4 shooting, including a couple monster dunks), grabbed four rebounds, and blocked two shots in 17 minutes of action.
Back to Caleb Forrest...he's been a star of the bench lately as well. He scored ten points last night (5-for-6 from the field), nabbed five boards, blocked a shot, and handed out an assist in just 18 minutes. That's on top of the nine points, four rebounds, and a block on Wednesday.
All of a sudden...WSU is looking much deeper than I thought. They are even deeper with Fabian Boeke healthy. The 6'11 center scored his first points as a Cougar last night (a three pointer late in the game). He was ruled ineligible last year and struggled with back injuries earlier this season. If he's healthy, he can help this team (or he might be the next Chris Henry).
Taylor Rochestie finally got back in a groove. Then again, he's done fine against the weaker teams this year...it's the top teams he's struggled against. The senior guard was 4-for-7 from the field (he still couldn't make a three if his life depended on it). He also handed out six assists...and didn't turn the ball over once. Aside from the stats, Rochestie looked more confident on the floor (he looked like the leader everyone hopes he can be).
The roller coaster (in terms of consistency) started to go back up for Klay Thompson. He turned things around after struggling the last two games. The freshman led the Cougars with 14 points last night (on 6-for-8 shooting). He also registered six rebounds, a block, a steal, and an assist.
As a team, Washington State dominated the glass. They outrebounded Montana State, 36-20.
I liked what I saw from the Cougars last night...I'm only hoping the week long break for finals doesn't slow them down. WSU isn't back in action until a week from today against Idaho.
Just because Wazzu isn't playing doesn't mean I won't be blogging this week, so stay tuned.