PULLMAN - Ken Bone wanted to see a tougher, better Washington State basketball team than the one that rolled over at Kansas State last season.
Bone got his wish during Friday night’s rematch. All of Bone’s wishes did not come true, however, as the fifth-ranked Wildcats held off a determined Washington State comeback attempt to prevail, 63-58, before a national television audience and a frenzied crowd of 11,671 at Friel Court.
The Cougars were manhandled on the glass and turned the ball over at will in falling behind 30-22 at halftime. WSU played more soundly in the final 20 minutes and took a 54-53 lead on DeAngelo Casto’s layup with 21/2 minutes left, but the Wildcats (7-1) sealed the deal at the free-throw line in the final 16 seconds.
“I’m really proud of what the guys accomplished tonight,” Bone said. “It would have been a great win, but the guys competed.”
The Wildcats were playing their first true road game of the year – they lost to top-ranked Duke in one of their two neutral-site contests – but the big crowd and long trip west seemed to have little impact in the first half in particular.
The quality of play for both teams did not always keep up with the effort put forth. Both teams hit fewer than 40 percent of their shots from the field and 57 percent at the free-throw line.
“We know we didn’t play our best game,” Bone said, “but we didn’t play our worst game, either.”
Curtis Kelly and Rodney McGruder led Kansas State with 15 points apiece. Jamar Samuels added 12 points and tied McGruder for game honors with eight rebounds.
Klay Thompson topped WSU (5-1) with 16 points, but he hit just 5 of 15 shots, including 1 of 7 from 3-point range. Thompson and preseason first-team All-American Jacob Pullen both had a game-high six turnovers, and Pullen scored just eight points with 2-for-11 shooting (1-for-6 on 3s).
Reggie Moore, WSU’s starting point guard last season, scored 10 points off the bench in his season debut while wearing a splint on his injured left wrist.
Faisal Aden, second on the Cougars to Thompson in scoring with a 20.8 average coming into the game, sank just 4 of 13 shots (0-for-2 on 3s) and scored eight points.
Kansas State outrebounded WSU 45-33, including 17-12 on the offensive glass.
“We fought, we battled, but we can’t give up that many rebounds,” Bone said. “You can’t give up 17 offensive rebounds and win.”
The Wildcats had 21 turnovers, compared with 15 for the Cougars.
Turnovers doomed WSU last season in an 86-69 loss at Kansas State.
“You don’t want to lose, but it says a lot about how much this team has matured when you compare last year’s game to this year,” WSU guard Marcus Capers said.
Casto, who started after missing two games with a sprained foot, matched the nine points of Capers and had a team-high seven rebounds and three blocked shots.