WSU looks to keep on rolling to Boulder

Cougars coming off of first sweep of Oregon schools since 2011



Senior guard Isaac Bonton was selected to the preseason All-Pac-12 second team Thursday morning. He is the only Coug to be recognized on either first or second team.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball will head to Boulder, Colorado, to take on the No. 23 University of Colorado Buffaloes at 7 p.m. Thursday. This will be the only matchup between the Cougars and Buffaloes this season.

The Cougars (12-7, 3-3) come off a home weekend sweep against the No. 12 Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers; their first weekend sweep against both Oregon schools since 2011.

Against Oregon State, junior guard Isaac Bonton scored a career high 34 points, dished eight assists and grabbed eight rebounds. Bonton is the first player in the Pac-12 to record 30 points, eight assists and eight rebounds since 1997.

“I always come with the same mindset every game,” Bonton said. “Everything was clicking for me that night, but I have to keep the same confidence and mindset every game.”

WSU’s win over Oregon State now puts WSU one win over last year’s record.

Head coach Kyle Smith said at the beginning of the season that he wanted to put a “good product on the floor.” He believes that the team provided exactly that on Saturday.

“We couldn’t have made a greater statement,” Smith said. “I think it was great for the whole community.”

The next objective for the team is handling and translating their success to the road, Smith said. WSU is 1-3 on the road this season. The lone road win was against University of Idaho in December at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow.

“We’ve poked our head a little bit above the water,” Smith said. “People are going to be a little more ready for [us].”

Colorado (14-4, 3-2) is 8-2 at home this season and is coming off a loss against the University of Arizona Wildcats. Since the Buffaloes’ adoption into the Pac-12 in 2012, Colorado has never lost to WSU at home.

Senior forward Jeff Pollard said he has a bit more urgency to play against Colorado on Thursday.

“It’ll be a good test; that’s a tough place to play,” Pollard said. “I think it would be cool to have my last experience in Boulder be a win.”

Colorado junior guard McKinley Wright IV ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in assists per game with five. Smith said the point guard play from Colorado will be the initial challenge for the Cougars on Thursday.

Sophomore forward CJ Elleby received his first career Pac-12 Player of the Week award after posting 25 points against Oregon and 22 points against Oregon State. Elleby and Bonton almost played the entirety of both games; they spent 10 minutes combined on the bench across the two games.

Smith said the team may have to give more minutes to the bench against Colorado with their recent injuries, but he believes the starting lineup is the answer for the time being.

“I think we’ll stay [with the lineup],” Smith said, “We played really well, and I don’t want to twist that.”

The Cougars tip-off against the Buffaloes at 7 p.m. Thursday in the CU Events Center in Boulder, Colorado. The game will air on the Pac-12 Networks.