Twenty-five points. In an era of 360-degree slam dunks, crossover dribbles and SportsCenter highlights, Washington State scored 25 points last week in a basketball game at Arizona.
Klay Thompson, the last star in the WSU program, used to score 25 with a sore throat and a bad elbow, while being double-teamed.
The last time the Cougars scored fewer points, they lost to Idaho, 27-18, in January 1939.
Hitler hadn’t yet invaded Poland.
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For perspective, I went to microfilm. On the day of that game, a headline on Page 1A blared: “Vivien Leigh will be Scarlett O’Hara.” And below: “Wins coveted role in Gone with the Wind.”
That’s right. “Gone with the Wind” was still doing casting calls when the Cougars last scored fewer than 25.
I’m not sure what’s more startling, that or the fact that in three years of groveling through offense under Dick Bennett (2004-06), WSU always stayed above 25.
The last time the Cougars scored this few, 25 exactly, was Jan. 18, 1941 (WSU’s widely reported note that it was in 1938 was in error, much like the Cougars at Arizona). The AP story from that 25-23 WSU victory over Idaho said, “A crowd of 3,500 — almost a record for the Idaho gym — saw a defensively brilliant Idaho team force State’s racing giants to slow to a cautious canter.”
Seventy-three years later, there was a lot of cautious cantering in Tucson again last week, as the Cougars tried to make up for the loss of leading scorer DaVonte Lacy. Despite a shot clock and the availability of a three-point shot in today’s game, they had 17 points with 2:30 left.
So I asked coach Ken Bone on Tuesday’s Pac-12 teleconference what sort of psychological massage was necessary afterward.
“We tried to praise them and let them know they’d done a real good job defensively,” he said. “We were proud of the fact our guys really guarded well.”
Bone is going to need to get creative, because he says Lacy has gone from recovering from an appendectomy to nursing an unrelated rib-cartilage injury that will keep him out this week against Colorado and Utah.
Lacy or not, Bone has an outfit that is last in the Pac-12 in three-point percentage (.308), free throws (.612), assists and assist-turnover ratio.
“We’ve gotta make some shots,” Bone said.
Over the decades, that doesn’t change.
Not that you needed evidence that the league has surrendered itself to TV, but Sunday’s perplexing schedule includes five conference games — after one on Saturday.
NFL playoff games, which command the usual thunderous ratings, are on from 10 a.m. to almost 5 p.m. Pacific time Sunday. It might not be the best time to showcase the nation’s 15th-ranked team (Colorado, at Washington at noon) and No. 17 (Oregon, hosting Stanford at 2 p.m.).
Fox Sports 1 has those two, followed by Pac-12 Networks with Utah-WSU and Arizona-USC. ESPNU gets the nightcap of ASU-UCLA.
“Our media partners select based on preference,” wrote Erik Hardenbergh, Pac-12 vice president of public affairs, in an email, pointing out that the Sunday-evening window is relatively clear.
That explanation won’t be satisfying to people like Arizona State coach Herb Sendek, whose game at UCLA is at 7 Sunday night.
“There’s not a whole lot of plus in that for a student-athlete, to be frank,” he says. “Sunday is traditionally the one day off for a student-athlete. In terms of having a day of rest, it’s a nice, easy cadence, where you could take Sundays off. I’m a little bit of a traditionalist. I think it’s really healthy for everybody.”
He concedes, “We have a great TV contract.”
At a price.
And what’s more …
• The week’s marquee game is No. 1 Arizona at UCLA at 6 p.m. Thursday, which means the Wildcats will have to foil Kyle Anderson’s remarkable all-around game. He’s 14th in the league in scoring (15.1), fourth in rebounding (8.9), tops in assists (6.6) and fourth in steals (1.7).
• Not buying into the idea that the conference is dramatically improved is the Sagarin computer, which has the Pac-12 No. 5 nationally, behind the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East and ACC.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com