PULLMAN – Washington State’s euphoria from Thursday night’s 85-77 Pac-10 Conference victory over USC was wearing off even before the uniforms were thrown into the locker-room corner.
A right ankle sprain suffered by point guard Reggie Moore less than nine minutes into the game, an injury that forced him to watch the second half in a protective boot, was a kick in the excitement for the Cougars.
Then later that night the other boot dropped.
Leading scorer Klay Thompson, who had 22 points against the Trojans, was pulled over by the Pullman Police and cited for a misdemeanor marijuana charge, possession of less than 40 grams, after the police searched the junior’s car and found 1.95 grams of marijuana.
Friday morning, WSU coach Ken Bone suspended the Pac-10’s leading scorer for Saturday’s game against second-place UCLA (21-9 overall, 12-5 in Pac-10 play), a contest that will determine WSU’s seeding next week’s Pac-10 tournament.
With Thompson out and Moore not expected to play after being officially listed as doubtful Friday, where do the Cougars (19-10, 9-8) go from here?
“We’re just going to try to piece it together,” Bone said. “We’re just going to have odd combinations (on the floor), similar to the Arizona State game but probably even more unique lineups. I don’t see any way around it.”
Bone was referring to a recent 71-69 loss to the Sun Devils in which Thompson did not play the first six minutes after being late for the team bus.
“We need to piece together 40 minutes of guys playing hard and executing the things we need to execute,” said Bone, who didn’t address the Thompson suspension other than to analyze how it could affect today’s game.
Thompson is averaging a Pac-10 leading 21.4 points per game while also leading WSU with four assists per game and grabbing 5.1 rebounds, second behind DeAngelo Casto’s 6.9.
Moore, who missed the first five games with a fracture in his left wrist and another after his marijuana citation, is averaging 9.5 points and 3.5 assists, though he had picked up his game in the past couple weeks, scoring in double figures for four consecutive games.
Without the duo, WSU will probably rely more on the inside play of Casto. The 6-foot-8 junior has posted three consecutive scoring/rebounding double-doubles and hit 10 of 11 shots en route to 24 points Thursday.
Faisal Aden, who came off the bench against USC and scored 20 points, will start in lieu of Moore, but Bone said he still hasn’t decided who will start for Thompson.
The Cougars (19-10 overall and 9-8 in Pac-10 play) earned a bye into the second round of the Pac-10 tournament with their 85-77 win over USC on Thursday night.
But a win against the Bruins (21-9, 12-5) could earn WSU as high as a fourth seed, depending on other outcomes in the Pac-10’s last day of regular season play.
UCLA is coming off a 70-63 loss at Washington, only the fifth time the Bruins have lost the first game of a two-game Pac-10 weekend series in coach Ben Howland’s six years. In the same period, they’ve won 43 times, including the first 32. During second games, UCLA is just 28-19.
Seven of those Thursday wins have come in Pullman, as a Howland-coached team has never played on a Saturday in Beasley Coliseum. The last time UCLA played here on a Saturday? Jan. 4, 2003, when Paul Graham’s last team lost to the Bruins 98-83. That loss is just one of the 17 consecutive defeats the Bruins have hung on host WSU.
And today it will be a depleted group of Cougars who will try to snap that streak.
“We’re just going to take it minute by minute, really that’s how I’m looking at it,” Bone said.
Bone talked with his team Friday and let them know what he thought about today’s game.
“We talk about dealing with adversity all the time,” Bone said he told his team. “Well, here’s some adversity. Let’s see how we respond.”