NEW YORK - Madison Square Garden, the so-called "mecca" of college basketball, is constructed above the train tracks that run in and out of Penn Station.
That seems strange because the only train wreck that took place Tuesday night occurred on the hardwood floor of the Garden.
The Washington State Cougars were every bit as awful as the Wichita State Shockers were superb. The result was a 75-44 blowout in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
“We just played a really bad game,” point guard Reggie Moore said.
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Guard Klay Thompson concurred: “I thought we’d play a lot better.”
And coach Ken Bone summed it up: “We were just not very good.”
The 31-point margin of defeat was the Cougars’ worst since an 81-29 loss at Oklahoma State on Dec. 4, 2004. The Cougars (22-13) shot 29.4 percent from the floor (second worst this season behind a 25.9 effort at Oregon), scored one more point than their season low (43 at Oregon) and were out-rebounded by a season-worst 27 (52-25) by the Shockers.
“They’re just bigger and stronger,” Bone said. “They literally just manhandled us on both ends of the court.”
Thompson, who may have played his final college game, did not go out in memorable fashion. He drew three fouls in the first 10 minutes and wound up tying his season low of six points on 1-for-10 shooting.
“I just didn’t play that well, starting with my defense, which was terrible,” Thompson said.
“Picking up three fouls in the first half, I couldn’t catch my rhythm after that. That’s really stupid play on my part.It’s tough ending the season that way.”
Thompson again said he hasn’t decided whether to turn pro or return for his senior season. Bone said “nothing has changed” since he recently said there is a “50-50” chance that Thompson and junior post DeAngelo Casto will turn pro this year.
Thompson wound up with a 21.6-point scoring average that ranks fifth in school history. He is the first Cougar to lead the Pacific-10 Conference in scoring since Don Collins in 1979-80.
Casto led the Cougars with six rebounds and tied Moore for the team lead with nine points.
The Shockers (28-8), who broke the school record for wins, scored the first seven points and were never remotely threatened. Wichita State led 36-19 at halftime before an estimated 5,000 fans.
“That’s about as well as we’ve played in a long time,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said.
Garrett Stutz might not ever play as well as he did Tuesday. The 7-foot junior center came off the bench to score a career-high 24 points, and his 11 rebounds were one short of a career best.
“It’s going to be a good memory I’ll have the rest of my life,” Stutz said.
The 6-8 Casto and other Cougars seemed helpless to stop Stutz, who came into the game averaging 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. Stutz had 16 points and eight rebounds in Wichita State’s three other NIT games, but Marshall said Stutz scores high with him regardless of what he does on the basketball court.
“He’s as fine a human being as you could ever find,” Marshall said.
Wichita State plays for the NIT championship Thursday (4 p.m., ESPN2) against Alabama (25-11).
Alabama 62, Colorado 61: JaMychal Green scored 22 points, Trevor Releford scored the go-ahead basket in the closing seconds, and the top-seeded Crimson Tide withstood a late rally.
Colorado star Alec Burks, who scored 20 points, missed an off-balance shot at the buzzer.