Cougs spoil career game from Gueye

Mouhamed Gueye scored career-high 31 points, Cougs still lose 80-70



WSU center Mouhamed Gueye passes the ball during an NCAA men’s basketball game against ASU, Jan 28.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball (10–15, 5–9 Pac-12) played USC (17–6, 9–3 Pac-12) in a rematch of a big Cougar win on New Year’s Day.

Round two with USC ended with the Cougs down 10. However, this was not a blowout. With around two minutes left in the game, TJ Bamba hit a three to cut the lead to one point. Unfortunately, that was the last positive play for the Cougs. The remaining 125 seconds saw a 10-2 Trojans run that completely sealed the game.

Before that tough ending, the game had been back and forth for a long time. Mouhamed Gueye was powering the Cougar offense through periods where it felt like nobody else could buy a bucket. He finished with a career-high 31 points and got a double-double with 12 rebounds. Only one other Coug, Justin Powell, was in double digits.

Unfortunately, these offensive struggles were not unexpected. The Cougs were missing three key players due to illness: DJ Rodman, Adrame Diongue and Dylan Darling. Only eight players played in the game for the Cougs and only seven played more than two minutes.

It is tough to win when a team is shorthanded. While USC did not significantly outnumber the Cougs, seeing an injury to starter Josh Morgan early and playing only six players for more than six minutes, they were not missing a contributor as important as Rodman is to the Cougs. The Trojans had three players in double figures, two of whom broke 20.

This game acts as a reminder both negative and positive. On the negative side, this team has struggled so much. Injuries have made a season with high potential into a tough and likely losing season. However, on the positive side, this team has not been awful. The Cougs have big wins over good teams and an unbelievable number of close losses to great teams. Often those losses came while missing starters or key bench players.

While Gueye will likely declare again for the draft or G-League like Efe Abogidi did last year, a healthy version of this team sans Gueye is still good. There are a lot of high-potential players and if head coach Kyle Smith can utilize the transfer portal properly and avoid getting gutted by it like last year, then there is a lot to be excited for.

Before that, he also has to try to win the games in front of him. He could not do that Saturday in Los Angeles against UCLA. The first time the Cougars faced UCLA this season, they lost a close one to a good team. It feels like that keeps happening, but this time UCLA ran away with the game, winning 76-52.