Men’s basketball travels to the Rockies

WSU looks to pick up first conference win on road trip Thursday



Redshirt freshman guard Jamar Ergas lays up the ball in the game against the University of Arizona on Jan. 31 in Beasley Coliseum.

JOHN SPELLMAN, Evergreen reporter

The WSU men’s basketball team knows their first conference road trip of the season will be a tough one.

The team travels on the road to take on the University of Colorado Boulder before going to Salt Lake City to take on the University of Utah. The Cougars hope their road trip is not as rocky as the mountains they fly over as they go through Colorado and Utah.

WSU (7-7, 0-1) comes into the matchup against Colorado struggling after recently losing their first Pac-12 Conference game on the road to the University of Washington on Friday night. Despite the loss, there were some positives that WSU Head Coach Ernie Kent took away from a disappointing result in Seattle.

CJ Elleby was the main positive. He scored 26 points in his first Pac-12 Conference game, not to mention it was a big rivalry game as the Cougars went up against the Huskies.

However, WSU was without star player and leading Pac-12 scorer senior forward Robert Franks, out because of a hip injury. Franks is still listed as day-to-day by Coach Kent, who does not know if he will have his star player on the road against the Buffaloes or the Utes.

“We want [Robert Franks] to grow, but we still have enough talent without him to get the job done,” Kent said. “But I need more players to step up for this tough road trip.”

The Buffaloes (9-5, 0-2) resemble the Cougars in the sense that they are also looking for their first win in conference play. Colorado has lost three of their last four matchups, with the last two on the road against Arizona and Arizona State.

Coach Kent will have to have his team pick up their defensive play against a scuffling offense for Colorado that has scored less than 70 points in their last five games.

“We know we have tough coaching and we need to keep our tough frame of mind and the right mentality, if we do that then we are a really tough team to beat,” Kent said.

However, after Colorado, things do not get any easier for the Cougars as they then travel to take on the University of Utah.

“The mountain road trip through Colorado and Utah is always the toughest,” Kent said, “because of the travel with the distance between the two schools and the elevation makes it really challenging.”

Utah comes off a good road trip against Arizona and Arizona State. Even though they went 1-1, winning against the Sun Devils before losing to the Wildcats, Utah had a very productive weekend.

In their win over Arizona State, they erased a 17 point first half lead to defeat a team that was ranked in the top 25 the week before. Their loss to Arizona was in overtime by three points at the McKale Center, a place where Utah has not won since 1986.

WSU takes on Colorado Thursday at 6 p.m. and the Utes Saturday at 5 p.m. with both games airing live on the Pac-12 Network.