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WSU Men's Basketball
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Washington State blasts Idaho for most lopsided Battle of the Palouse in series history

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 18, 2021

By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

MOSCOW, Idaho – After 276 men’s basketball meetings between Washington State and Idaho, the widest margin of victory stood at 32 points.

Game No. 277 rewrote the record books.

Washington State blasted Idaho on Thursday night at ICCU Arena, pouring it on in a 109-61 result that marked the most lopsided win in the longest continuously running hoops series in the country.

It was also the Vandals’ worst loss in program history, and WSU’s highest single-game scoring output since 1998.

“We played probably our best game since I’ve been here, to be honest,” third-year Cougars coach Kyle Smith said. “Really proud of how our guys were unselfish throughout, played the right way on both sides of the ball. Really, you don’t get many games like that in your coaching career.

“Didn’t see that coming.”

The Cougars (4-0) had six scorers in double figures, which quieted a packed house at Moscow’s new arena. WSU shot over 60%, manhandled its undersized farmland foes in the paint and outscored the Vandals (1-3) by 30 in a second half full of highlights from any crimson-clad player who touched the ball – deep reserves included.

“They’re long, they’re athletic,” Idaho coach Zac Claus said of WSU. “They can score in a variety of ways. They don’t have many weak spots right now.”

Standout guard Noah Williams led all players with 16 points and added five assists. Michael Flowers (13 points), Mouhamed Gueye (13, six rebounds), Efe Abogidi (12, five boards), Ryan Rapp (13) and TJ Bamba (11) also contributed double-digit scoring efforts.

“I tell our guys probably twice a week. I address them before practice and say: ‘We have no bad players – we have no guys that can’t play at this level,’” Smith said.

Idaho shot 30.5%, including 26.5% in the second half.

The Cougs committed only five turnovers – an emphasis for a team that struggled to maintain possession last year.

“You’re worried about that on the road, but we really played with purpose, played with poise,” Smith said. “That’s an incredible effort.”

It didn’t take long for WSU to wear UI down, feeding the ball inside to its longer athletes and penetrating the Vandals’ interior defense during a big early scoring run that supplied more than enough cushion for the visitors to coast.

WSU, which won this game last season by just three points, seemed to feed off the buzz generated by the rivalry.

“They’ve got plenty of bulletin-board material,” Smith said. “So, I said ‘We better be ready and dialed in.’ I didn’t anticipate that at all.”

The Cougars entered the game ranked 54th nationally, according to KenPom, which had Idaho at 350th.

The Cougars shot 8 of 9 and closed all windows inside for UI during a 16-2 run that began after about five minutes.

Towering post players Abogidi and Gueye – both with significant advantages over any Vandal in wingspan – sparked the spurt.

“No. 21 (UI guard Gabe Quinnett) was guarding me. He’s 6-4 and I’m 6-11, so you just gotta take advantage,” Gueye said. “This game, we were trying to make our identity. That’s what we are. We played hard, we (beat) them to the glass, we attacked.”

Idaho was getting blitzed off the dribble, so the Vandals opted to defend WSU with a cushion in hopes of cutting off drives.

Williams capitalized on soft defense and gaps in Idaho’s zone, scoring eight points quickly on elbow jumpers.

A tight game lasted all of 10 minutes. WSU opened a 21-point lead at 6:13 after DJ Rodman canned an open triple and flipped in a putback off one of several first-half Idaho giveaways.

WSU outscored UI in the paint 23-4 in the first half and led by 17 at the break. Flowers drilled a deep 3 off a crosscourt Williams pass early in the second to highlight another run over about a minute out of the locker room, all but putting the game away with plenty of time to go.

WSU didn’t let up, and led by more than 20 points for the final 17:44 of the contest.

The Cougs went up 30 with about 10 minutes to play, and swelled their edge to 40 with six minutes left.

They surpassed the century mark on free throws from backup guard Rapp, who canned two late 3-pointers to ignite a “Go Cougs” chant among a sizable gathering of WSU faithful making the 7-mile trip east.

Smith told reporters that Rapp’s grandfather had passed away earlier this week, “so it was pretty nice for him to have a good game,” Smith said.

Only one Vandal, guard Mikey Dixon (12 points), topped double digits.

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