The Washington State men’s basketball team hopes to see some improvements on Sunday afternoon when the Cougars meet Rhode Island in the consolation game at the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Uncasville, Conn.
The Cougars (2-1) lost the opener of the two-day showcase to Mississippi State 76-64 on Saturday. The Bulldogs benefited from more poise and physicality.
“Every time we made a run, they had an answer,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said. “I think there was a lot of growth in there during that game, so we’ll look at it and we’ve got to turn around and play a good team (Sunday).”
Smith said the Cougars hope to cut down on the discrepancy at the free-throw line that occurred against Mississippi State, which went to the line 25 times, compared to 12 for the Cougars.
Jimmy Bell Jr., the 6-10 center for Mississippi State, made eight trips to the line, sinking seven.
“I thought they got a kind whistle,” Smith said. “(Bell) is a load, and they just let him do whatever he wanted in there as far as getting deep catches and sealing and getting to the line. And I felt like, ‘It’s OK,’ but I thought we had a couple of those too, but we didn’t get rewarded.”
Smith would also like to see the Cougars make their open shots and recover more loose balls, but he saw enough positives on Saturday that he’s optimistic about a better result against Rhode Island.
“It will be a quick turnaround and that’s why you play in these events,” he said. “You get to see some good teams.”
Rhode Island (3-1) got off to a tough start in its first-round game against Northwestern, falling behind 22-2 before cutting it to 28-24 with just under two minutes left in the first half.
The Rams wouldn’t get any closer, however, and lost 72-61.
Rhode Island will look for a better performance from junior guard Jaden House, who came in averaging 20.7 points through the first three games while shooting 65.7 percent from the floor, but was limited to six points on 2-for-13 shooting against Northwestern.
–Field Level Media
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