TEMPE, Ariz. – Sometimes a box score can tell the entire story of a college basketball game. Sometimes it only scratches the surface.
The latter was the case Sunday afternoon before 6,433 at Wells Fargo Arena, where the Washington State University Cougars suffered their worst defeat in nearly four years, 71-46, to Arizona State.
The Cougars had no one in double figures.
They shot 29.8 percent for the game, had just six assists on their 17 baskets, allowed ASU to shoot 50.8 percent, 56.3 in the second half, and were outscored 38-21 after halftime. It all added up to their biggest beatdown since Feb. 18, 2006, a 67-37 loss at Oregon.
But the most telling aspect of the box is the listed starters. Sophomore post Charlie Enquist made his first career start, freshman Xavier Thames his second.
They were on the court for the opening tip because Marcus Capers and James Watson were late for the morning walk-through at 8:30 on Sunday and DeAngelo Casto was late for the bus to the arena, coach Ken Bone said.
It was the second time this season a disciplinary change had to be made to the lineup. The last time, however, in Alaska, WSU was able to overcome the disruption. Not this time.
“I think it’s usually detrimental to what you are trying to accomplish,” Bone said of having to throw a different lineup on the court, “and I believe it was (today).
“Nothing against the kids who started, but it just kind of messes up your rotations. Then it was capitalized on Klay (Thompson) getting his second foul.”
The Sun Devils, who lost their first two Pacific-10 Conference games on the road but are now 2-2, took advantage of both to snap a six-game losing streak against the Cougars.
Though WSU (12-4, 2-2) jumped to a 7-1 lead – it could have been even more but the Cougars missed six early open shots – before ASU coach Herb Sendek could get a time out.
Whatever he said worked, as the Sun Devils (12-5 overall) put together a 16-0 run helped by nine consecutive empty WSU possessions – five quick misses and four turnovers.
When Reggie Moore, who was 2 of 10 from the floor and finished with eight points and three assists, converted 1 of 2 free throws 9 minutes, 18 seconds in to snap the streak, the Devils still led by nine.
“We came out flat and with no energy,” said senior Nik Koprivica. “When you mess up the routine we’re used to, it kind of shows that – I’m not pointing at any guys – but it’s just like (we’re) a little relaxed and we’ll come to the game late, late for this, late for that, at the game everything will be all right.”
After taking a 33-25 lead at halftime, the Sun Devils came out, went on an 8-2 run, built a cushion, and expanded the lead throughout the second half as WSU couldn’t find a combination that worked.
“ASU played well and we didn’t,” Bone said when asked what happened after halftime.
Thompson thought the offensive problems were just as simple, personally and as a team.
“I just didn’t hit shots,” said the sophomore, who came in averaging 23.9 points, best in the Pac-10, but scored just nine. “We didn’t finish around the rim or hit outside jumpers.”
“He missed some,” Sendek said of Thompson, who finished 3 of 11 from the floor, 1 of 5 from beyond the arc, but led WSU with eight rebounds. “He missed a few tonight on another night he’ll make. That old adage is true: Things are rarely as good or bad as they seem.”
They were to Koprivica, WSU’s lone upperclassman. But he hopes the young Cougars learned a lesson.
“I don’t think the score shows they are that much better than we are,” he said. “But it shows if we don’t come out 100 percent and we don’t do the things we are supposed to do, anybody can beat us by a lot.
“We’re just not a good enough team to just go through the motions.”