The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Through the Lens(es): Cougs beat Utah by 22

Isaac Jones dominates to lead WSU in victory
Guard+Myles+Rice+yells+during+warm-ups+to+hype+himself+up+before+an+NCAA+mens+basketball+game+against+Utah%2C+Jan.+24%2C+2024%2C+in+Pullman%2C+Wash.
EMMA DECASA
Guard Myles Rice yells during warm-ups to hype himself up before an NCAA men’s basketball game against Utah, Jan. 24, 2024, in Pullman, Wash.

In their first meeting of the season, Utah MBB beat WSU by 22 points on their home floor. With WSU looking for revenge and to defend their own home floor, the Cougs won by 22, matching the margin of victory that their counterparts handed them at the start of the season. The Runnin’ Utes trailed by just 3 points when the first half ended, but an explosion in the second half guided the Cougs to victory.

Five players scored in double-digits for the Cougs, will all five starters finishing with at least 10 points. Isaac Jones led the team with 17 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season and 17th of his four-plus year career. Notably, Jones even attempted a three-point shot sparking the question of whether or not we may see that type of attempt from him going forward.

BRANDON WILLMAN
Isaac Jones celebrates toward the student section after a and-one play early in the Cougs win over Utah, Jan. 24, in Pullman, Wash.

“We might have to put restrictions on that, end of clock only. End of clock only,” head coach Kyle Smith said.

Beyond Jones, Andrej Jakimovski finished with 14 points, Jaylen Wells and Oscar Cluff both had 13 and finally, Myles Rice finished with 10 points.

“Our main focus was just to compete hard. Myles did a really good job organizing the offense,” Jakimovski said.

BRANDON WILLMAN
Jaylen Wells hangs in the air as he shoots the ball with just one hand, Jan. 24, in Pullman, Wash.

For Utah, the focus of their entire game plan was their own version of Victor Wembanyama, the 7-foot Branden Carlson. Carlson led all players on the floor with 20 points, but he only grabbed three rebounds and found himself in foul trouble with four fouls. Carlson had the best shooting night of the Runnin’ Utes starers, finishing 9-of-17 from the field and 2-of-4 from the field, much better than the rest of the field for the losing team.

BRANDON WILLMAN
Utah’s Branden Carlson skies in the air above the rim for a touch shot over Jaylen Wells, Jan. 24, in Pullman, Wash.

Defensively, the Cougs improved ten-fold compared to the first meeting between these two Pac-12 programs. Holding Utah to 18% from the three-point line, the shooting woes sunk the Utes ship. Also shooting just 43% from the free-throw line, Utah struggled to find their offense on the home Pullman court.

Despite the close score throughout the first half, the final lead Utah held came with 14:46 left in the first half. For the final 34:46 of the game, WSU controlled the flow of the game and Smith’s team won on multiple levels.

In the 46-point second half showing, Wells had 11 of his points and Cluff dominated the post with 9 points and four rebounds while shooting 80% from the field.

BRANDON WILLMAN
Oscar Cluff puts up a soft hook shot in the middle of a few Arizona defenders, Jan. 13, in Pullman, Wash.

While on the box score, Rice’s 10 points on just 37.5% shooting leaves a lot to be desired, Smith said that his shooting percentage is not his highest priority.

“I don’t look at Myles’s field goal percentage or anything to determine if he plays well. It’s his decision-making,” Smith said. “Six assists and one turnover is the most important stat for the position he plays.”

With another big game in terms of ball security, Rice now has 74 assists on the season with just 45 turnovers. Along with his 310 total points, Rice has continued to prove himself to be one of the best freshman in the Pac-12.

EMMA DECASA
Guard Myles Rice pushes past a Utah defender in an NCAA men’s basketball game, Jan. 24, 2024, in Pullman, Wash.

Finishing with a game score of 9.2, defensive rating of 84.9, estimated fouls drawn of 8.5 and importantly that six-to-one assist to turnover ratio, Rice proved to be a vital piece of the blowout win despite his shooting struggles.

BRANDON WILLMAN
Guard Myles Rice finishes off a dunk during warm-ups prior to facing off against Utah, Jan. 24, in Pullman, Wash.

Off the bench, Isahiah Watts hit back-to-back threes to liven up the crowd, Rueben Chinyelu got three offensive boards and consistently kept plays alive for the Cougs and Kymany Houinsou came in for a valuable 11 minutes with a team-leading defensive rating of just 78.4.

Beating Utah improved the Cougs record to 14-6 overall and 5-4 in the Pac-12, a key win as the regular season winds down and each game matters even more for seeding for the Conference Tournament.

Gallery:

More to Discover
About the Contributors
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.
EMMA DECASA, Evergreen photographer
Emma Decasa is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Originally from Issaquah, Washington, she is a junior majoring in Advertising, with a minor in Sports Communication. Emma started working for the Daily Evergreen in the fall of 2023.