Cougs split away games 1-1

Cougs back to .500 in Pac-12 play



WSU forward Andrej Jakimovski (23) passes the ball during a college basketball game against Weber State University at Beasley Coliseum, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.

KAT MCKINNEY-ROLEY, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball split the road series against the mountain schools 1-1, beating the University of Utah Utes. 

This is only the second time the Cougs have won a game in Salt Lake City since 1946. The Cougs also snapped a 13-game losing streak against the Utes with the away win.

“It’s a good way to bounce back after our loss to Colorado … we played really good today,” Andrej Jakimovski said.

In the last game, the Cougs were missing key player guard Noah Williams. Williams did not make the trip to Boulder, but made the trip to Salt Lake City. Williams was not expected to play, but was suited up and ready to take on the Utes after just one practice due to COVID-19 issues. 

“Our guys really had a good way about them and stayed the course and got the win,” WSU head coach Kyle Smith said. 

In the opening minutes, the Cougs came out with a quicker pace than their last game against Colorado. Guards Michael Flowers and Tyrell Roberts both made three-point shots that set the tone early.

“Coach mentioned at half time that we are probably one of the best first half teams in the country,” Jakimovski said. “The focus was to play hard especially in the first four minutes.”

Roberts is currently first in the Pac-12 with an outstanding 96.9% free throw rate. Flowers follows him with a number four ranking in free throws, shooting 85.7% from the line.

Fouls were a problem early on for WSU, tallying seven fouls in the first 10 minutes of the game. With 10 minutes played, the Utes had just one foul. The Cougs have been a high-fouling team most of the season, but mainly have trouble in the second half. 

Freshman Mouhamed Gueye had a standout second part of the first half. Gueye continued to show how dominant he can be on both offense and defense. He finished with 11 points overall and back-to-back dunks while providing pressure on defense close to the rim.

When it came to free throws both teams were 100% from the line, WSU only shot one free throw in the first half. The Utes took advantage of WSU’s early fouling, shooting 11 free throws in the first half.

To round out the first half, Jakimovski nailed a three-point shot to send the team into the locker room on a 12-2 run. 

Coming into the second half, both Roberts and Jakimovski hit back-to-back threes to give the Cougs 16 point lead. Jakimovski was 3-5 on the night behind the arc and had a team high of seven rebounds. As a team, the Cougs dominated the boards with 39 rebounds. 

“Every day with Coach Shaw and Coach John they are forcing me to work hard,” Jakimovski said. “I have the ability to take the rebound so every possession I am trying to take them. It was good to get the seven rebounds and especially the one when the game was close, so I think that’s a big step for me. I’m just trying to build off this game.”

As a team, WSU went 12-30 on three-point attempts. Roberts hit five of the team’s 12 threes, contributing to his 17 points. Overall, Roberts went 5-9 from behind the arc. 

Williams had a nice first game back, scoring 11 points. Williams played 23 minutes against the Utes, which was not expected for his first game back, but it was a welcome surprise for the Cougs and fans. 

WSU is set to take on the Cardinal of Stanford at 2 p.m. Thursday in Beasley Coliseum. The game will be televised on ESPNU for fans at home.