Second chance to take down Buffaloes

Cougars will seek revenge after losing to Colorado in first meeting this year

Junior+forward+Robert+Franks+dribbles+the+ball+in+a+game+against+Arizona+State+at+Beasley+Coliseum.

EZEKIEL NELSON | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Junior forward Robert Franks dribbles the ball in a game against Arizona State at Beasley Coliseum.

COLIN CONNOLLY , Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball will look to end its seven-game losing streak Thursday against the University of Colorado.

The Buffaloes (15-10, 7-6) have won three straight conference games coming into Pullman, where they last won in 2016. The Cougs (9-15, 1-11) will try to win at home, where they are 6-6 on the season.

Head Coach Ernie Kent said he wants people to believe in the program and the direction it is going. He said he has seen a lot of growth in his young players and he is looking forward to having a lot of them back next year with some experience under their belt. But for now, he said, he is focused on finishing this season strong.

Kent said he hopes the players can build chemistry and improve their mentality in the final stretch of the season.

“I think we need to get a little bit tougher, a little bit stronger physically,” Kent said.

Junior guard Viont’e Daniels made six three-pointers and totaled 18 points in 40 minutes during the last Colorado matchup. Sophomore guard Carter Skaggs was 6-13 from the field, including five three-pointers, racking up 17 points.

Daniels said he and Skaggs were both able to find their stroke in that game, but will need to have a defense-first mentality come game time, because the Buffaloes are tough to beat on both ends of the court.

“We need to have the motivation to get stops when we’re not scoring,” Daniels said. “Then we can start to score in transition and it kick-starts our offense.”

In the team’s last game against Colorado, WSU went on an 18-2 run in the second half that brought the game within five points. From there, the Buffaloes went on a 12-0 run that ended the comeback and put the game out of reach.

Kent said the Cougs ran a zone well to start the game against Colorado, but they had to get out of it because they weren’t blocking out and they were giving up a lot of rebounds.

“The second half we went back to the zone,” Kent said, “and when we rebounded, it forced them to jack up some bad shots, which allowed us to get out and run.”

WSU may look to run the zone again Thursday because of how well it worked in the final 20 minutes of the last matchup.

The Cougars were without leading scorer junior forward Robert Franks during Sunday’s 27-point blowout loss to University of Oregon due to an apparent knee injury. Kent said Franks will be good to go against Colorado.

Daniels said that if they play with the intensity they showed during the run they made and start games like that, they will have a better chance of winning.

“Last time out [against Colorado] we had too many mistakes and I think we were gassed trying to come back,” Daniels said. “We didn’t have the energy it took to win the game.”

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. Thursday at Beasley Coliseum. The game can also be viewed live on Pac-12 Networks.