Both teams struggled offensively and 43 fouls were called, which forced both teams to get a good portion of scoring from the foul-line. Washington State went 17-of-28 (60.7 percent) from the FT line and Utah fared a little better going 18-of-27 (66.7 percent). However, Utah shot 29.5 percent for the game, going 4-of-20 in the second half They struggled with Washington State’s match-up zone defense which prevented the Cougars from having key players foul-out and allowed them to gain the lead in the second half.
Washington State was led by red-shirt freshmen guard Que Johnson, who scored 14 points with ten of them coming on 10-of-13 shooting from the FT line. Johnson, who stands at 6’5, is a strong and athletic PG/SG who can get into the lane and finish with strong power moves. He also draws contact and gets to the line for a majority of his scoring. However, Johnson needs to improve on his decision making, perimeter shooting and overall defense.
Johnson received scoring help from Australian red-shirt junior SG Dexter Kernich-Drew (6’7, 190) who racked up 11 points on 5-of-6 FG shooting and hit one of the Cougars two made three-point shots for the game. Down the stretch Kernich-Drew hit some key mid-range pull-ups and overall is playing with more confidence, which will be key for his ability to be a more productive player for Coach Ken Bone. He needs to improve his overall physical strength which will help him develop better scoring off penetration and become a better all-around rebounder.
Senior PF D.J. Shelton (6’10, 250) put in another blue-collar performance for the Cougs scoring eight points with six coming from 6-of-8 FT shooting and pulled down nine rebounds (three offensive). Shelton ranks 7th in the Pac-12 in rebounding at eight per game.
Utah was lead by sophomore SF Jordan Loveridge’s (6’6. 218) 15 points and 5 rebounds and junior guard Delon Wright’s (6-5, 180) 14 points and seven rebounds. Loveridge, showed his ability as a spot-up shooter from beyond the arc, with a semi-quick first-step coupled with strong penetration to the basket and the ability to draw and take contact. Loveridge has good athleticism, strength and length, but needs to work on finishing when receiving contact on drives. He is an 82 percent FT shooter and if he can improve on his 30.9 percent three-point shooting, he will enhance his ability to become a higher-level professional prospect.
Wright, who is the younger brother of current Portland Trail Blazer F Dorrell Wright, is long, quick, athletic and overall has a lot of potential to be a solid NBA PG prospect, but needs to develop more consistent perimeter shooting and better decision making. Down the stretch in the WSU game, he could have provided a real offensive boost for his team by hitting mid-range jumpers off his penetration, but it was clear that aspect of his game was missing or he lacks confidence.
Eric Stang is a Correspondent and Scout for NetScouts Basketball.