Washington State beats up CU Buffs men’s basketball in final Pullman visit

Fast break

Why the Buffs lost: Washington State outrebounded CU 40-35 and held the Buffs to a .386 shooting percentage.

Three stars:

1. CU’s KJ Simpson: The lone bright spot offensively for the Buffs, he went 7-for-11 from the field and 8-for-8 at the free throw line with 25 points.

2. WSU’s Myles Rice: The redshirt freshman guard seemed to turn away every CU rally, finishing 7-for-13 while sharing the team lead with 17 points.

3. WSU’s Isaac Jones: finished with his second consecutive double-double and sixth of the season, recording 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Up next: CU will have a shorter work week that ends with another tough road challenge on Saturday, Feb. 3 at Utah (3 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

PULLMAN, Wash. — The road momentum was short-lived for the Colorado men’s basketball team.

After notching the first win of the season in a true road game earlier this week against Washington, the Buffs ran into a brick wall in their final Pac-12 trip to Pullman, as Washington State’s defense made it a long afternoon for CU’s attack in a 78-69 defeat on Saturday afternoon.

CU missed a chance to pick up its first Quad 1 win of the season and ends the first half of Pac-12 play with a 6-4 league mark.

“They were the more aggressive team. You could tell from the jump,” CU guard KJ Simpson said. “That’s one of the first things we talked about in that first media timeout was on defense, their pressure was at a higher level than ours. That’s why they were making it tough for us to get going. Ours wasn’t matching it and they felt real comfortable.”

Washington State entered the game with one of the top defenses in the Pac-12, and the Cougars put that on display against the Buffs, as every CU player not named Simpson endured a tough game offensively.

Senior Tristan da Silva scored 16 points but was just 6-for-15 from the floor. Freshman standout Cody Williams scored just six points, his lowest total since the third game of his collegiate career, and he went without a field goal for the first time this season. Center Eddie Lampkin went 4-for-6 with 10 points but committed four of CU’s nine turnovers.

After pouring in a CU career-high 24 points during a win at Washington on Wednesday, J’Vonne Hadley went 1-for-6 with a season-low two points. Reserve forward Luke O’Brien went scoreless for the first time since the fourth game of the season.

Simpson was a bright spot, going 7-for-11 from the field and 8-for-8 at the free throw line with a game-high 25 points, but the Buffs finished with a .386 mark overall, their third-lowest shooting percentage of the season. Washington State’s six blocked shots were the second-most by a CU foe this season.

“They’re probably the most physical team in the Pac-12 that we’ve played,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Their physicality gave us problems. They lead the league in blocked shots and I think in the first half that gave us problems. In the first half we kind of settled, if you will, for shots rather than getting the ball moved and our bodies moved. We weren’t good enough, but their physicality gave us problems.”

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CU trailed 36-30 at halftime before the Cougars pushed the lead to 13 with 8 minutes, 49 seconds remaining. The Buffs rallied to within three points with 3:29 to go after seven consecutive points from Simpson, and again got within three on an inside bucket from Lampkin with 1:33 remaining. CU never got any closer but remained within four when WSU’s Andrej Jakimovski missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity with 32 seconds left.

In a key sequence, the rebound was batted out of bounds and the officials ruled it was CU’s ball. However, the call was reversed on a video review, and WSU’s Isaac Jones converted a three-point play off the ensuing inbounds play that essentially ended CU’s comeback attempt.

“I feel like (defense) is their priority. That’s what they hang their hat on, defense and rebounding,” da Silva said. “They’ve got athletes. They’ve got rim protectors. They alter shots in the lane with their length. They come at you every time and if you fall asleep for a second, they’re already on the boards. We had to make sure we hit them first and box them out, but we didn’t do a good enough job of that.”

COLORADO (15-6, 6-4)

Williams 0-4 6-7 6, da Silva 6-15 2-2 16, Lampkin 4-6 2-5 10, Hadley 1-6 0-0 2, Simpson 7-11 8-8 25, Hammond 4-10 0-0 10, O’Brien 0-4 0-0 0, Diop 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-57 18-22 69.

WASHINGTON ST. (15-6, 6-4)

Cluff 2-4 1-2 5, Jakimovski 3-11 2-3 11, Jones 5-10 3-3 13, Wells 6-16 3-5 17, Rice 7-13 3-4 17, Houinsou 1-2 4-4 6, Chinyelu 3-3 0-0 6, Watts 1-3 0-0 3, Mullins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-62 16-21 78.

Halftime — Washington St. 36-30. 3-point field goals — Colorado 7-17 (Simpson 3-5, Hammond 2-4, da Silva 2-5, Diop 0-1, Hadley 0-1, O’Brien 0-1), Washington St. 6-20 (Jakimovski 3-9, Wells 2-6, Watts 1-2, Jones 0-1, Rice 0-2). Rebounds — Colorado 35 (Simpson 8), Washington St. 40 (Jones 11). Assists — Colorado 6 (da Silva 3), Washington St. 8 (Jakimovski 4). Total fouls — Colorado 17, Washington St. 19. Attendance — 3,273.

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