Utah routs Washington State behind Kuzma’s 19
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak wondered how his team would bounce back from its toughest loss of the season.
”That was the million dollar question all week,” Krystkowiak said, referring to the one-point home loss to UCLA last weekend. ”It’s one of those moments of truth in the season where you can go a couple different ways.”
Absent their leading scorer and significant rebounding presence David Collette, the Utes responded in grand fashion.
Utah dominated the glass and Kyle Kuzma scored 19 points and pulled down 11 boards to help the Utes breeze past Washington State 88-47 on Wednesday night.
Lorenzo Bonam finished with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and four Utes finished in double figures.
The Utes (13-5, 4-2) outrebounded the Cougars 45-26.
”The reality is that Washington State does a lot of things well, but rebounding is not one of those categories,” Krystkowiak said. ”It would have been a shame had we not had a significant rebound advantage in this game, but that was really important.”
Bonam scored consecutive baskets to put the Utes up 11-2 in the opening minutes, which forced an early WSU (9-9, 2-4) timeout. Kuzma had six straight points amid a 12-2 Utah run at the end of the first, and the Utes let by 19 at the break.
Malachi Flynn helped the Cougars begin the second half on a 9-3 run. The freshman hit a jumper through contact, then pulled up to hit a deep 3-pointer a few possessions later. Flynn scored 10 points in the second half, 14 in the game.
Washington State ultimately never threatened.
”We did not bring our energy whatsoever,” Kent said. ”We know we can be very mediocre if we don’t bring it, and we know we’re a pretty good basketball team when we do bring it. For whatever reason we did not have our energy.”
The Cougars shot 32.8 percent from the field and made 2 of 18 from 3-point range. Josh Hawkinson had 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Washington State coach Ernie Kent is winless (0-5) against Utah since joining the Cougars.
Utah: The Utes made sure Wednesday’s game was not close after suffering a narrow one-point loss to No. 4 UCLA last Saturday. Utah remains in solid Pac-12 standing this year after the offseason departure of Jakob Poeltl to the NBA and the graduation of key senior guards, Brandon Taylor and Jordan Loveridge.
Washington State: Things started to look up for the Cougars after they started 2-0 in Pac 12 play. But the loss Wednesday increased the losing skid to four games, their longest of the season, and dropped them back to .500. WSU already has one more win in conference play than it did last season.
Utah played without 6-foot-9 forward David Collette, who did not make the trip due to concussion protocol. Krystkowiak said he’s still feeling after-effects of a concussion suffered weeks ago, and may rejoin the team Saturday. Collette, a transfer forward from Utah State, leads the team with 14.9 points per game.
Hawkinson posted another double-double and Flynn shot 5 of 10 from the field, but Kent said Washington State’s issues go beyond the box score.
”I felt like I was flat, that staff was flat, the team was flat,” Kent said.
Utah: The Utes face Washington on Saturday in Seattle. They host No. 11 Oregon and Oregon State next week in Salt Lake City.
Washington State: The Cougars host Colorado on Saturday at 1 p.m. before traveling down to the desert to face No. 14 Arizona and Arizona State next week.