Kyle Smith points to turnovers as WSU falters in 74-70 loss to UNLV
THE STATE OF WASHINGTON COULD don’t stop giving the ball away to UNLV in Las Vegas on Saturday. The Cougars committed 22 turnovers and UNLV scored 31 of those points, dooming the Cougars to a 74-70 loss. “Twenty-two turnovers,” Smith lamented after the game.
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“I was hoping under 15 or under 14 — under 10 I was hoping, but I was realistic,” Smith said when told the number reached 22. “It’s hard to scout this, but they have guys with really quick hands. It isn’t it just watching … they’re really good at getting deflections and all it takes is for one guy to get a piece of the ball … we’ve got to get better in that area.”
The Rebels entered the game ranked No. 2 in the country in forcing turnovers and the Cougars fed right into it. Bad passes, shot clock violations, offensive fouls – you name it, WSU did it. Had it not been too bright outside, this game could have been really ugly. WSU shot 54.2 percent from the field, and 56.5 percent from behind the arc.
“It was a good confidence session,” Smith said of the 3-point shooting. “Our goal is to have more offensive rebounds than turnovers. We failed miserably, but were still in the game. We missed 22 shots and only got eight back. They did a good job of keeping us out of there.”
Despite the turnovers, WSU still had a chance down three with the ball under 30 seconds left TJ Bamba appeared to lose his footing on a 3-point attempt.
One thing this game spoke about, however, is WSU’s tackling. Down by as many as 11, the Cougars refused to go away even with a depleted lineup and only eight scholarship players available.
“We don’t know what we are yet,” Smith said. “But I’m proud that our guys continued to compete … we put the ball in the basket pretty well. But they did a good job of keeping us off the glass. Which I thought we could have an advantage in.”
One of the bright spots for WSU was DJ Rodman who went early in WSU and finished with 14 points without turning it over. On a night where the youngsters looked out of place, Rodman remained a consistent figure despite being constantly hacked and beaten.
Justin Powell had 15 and three assists, but also uncharacteristically turned over three times. Bamba had 20 points, but also gave it away four times and UNLV doubled up often Mouhamed Gueyeand holding him to just seven points on 10 field goal attempts.
Kymany Houinsou held his own for WSU, finishing with seven points and five assists, but he turned it over four times. But the lack of depth for WSU was on full display. Dylan Darling and Mael Hamon-Crespin struggled as Darling turned it over twice and was a -12 while Hamon-Crespin was a minus-13 in just three minutes.
- WSU needs to get healthy. Darling and Hamon-Crespin have had nice moments this season, but they were liabilities on Saturday. WSU is in dire need Jabe Mullins and Andrey Jakimovski back not just for the shooting ability, but for the experience they bring.
- Gueye can’t take just 10 shots. Double team or not, Gueye should take at least 15 shots per game. WSU didn’t do a good enough job of getting him the ball on the block, he wasn’t always aggressive enough, and as a result, he was largely a non-factor.
- Carlos Rosario beginning to show signs. He’s still raw and part of that is not having really played in two years, but Rosario performed well against UNLV. If he can give the Cougars some minutes off the bench and be a threat from deep, he could have a legitimate role.
Related: TJ Bamba dominates as WSU crushes Northern Kentucky 68-47
NEXT: WSU will face Baylor next Sunday in Dallas at 7 p.m. Either ESPN or ESPN2 will carry the broadcast.