Washington St. Cougars vs. Colorado Buffaloes Pick & Prediction MARCH 15th 2024

LAS VEGAS — No. 22 Washington State landed in a Pac-12 tournament semifinal for the first time in 16 years with the second-seeded Cougars set to meet third-seeded Colorado on Friday.

The Cougars (24-8) attempt to reach a conference tournament championship for the first time in program history in their matchup with the Buffaloes (23-9).

“It would mean a lot,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said about the potential of reaching the title game in what will be the final Pac-12 tournament with the Cougars’ longtime conference foes.

“Obviously our goal is to win it. We’ve talked about embracing these games. We’ve got another postseason coming (Washington State’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008). This is how you get better.”

Washington State reached the semifinals with a 79-62 win over 10th-seeded Stanford on Thursday night. They last reached the final four of the conference tournament in 2008.

Six Cougars scored in double figures, led by Isaac Jones’ 16 points.

Myles Rice and Jaylen Wells each had 14, Andrej Jakimovski and Kymany Houinsou each added 11 and Rueben Chinyelu scored 10.

“We’re an unselfish group,” said Rice, the Pac-12 freshman of the year, who also had six rebounds and six assists. “We love to see the next person win. I think that we went out and displayed tonight.

“We had 18 assists. It was just a great atmosphere for us to share the ball. You could see everybody get going. If we just keep doing that, the sky’s the limit for us.”

Washington State split the regular-season series with Colorado, losing to the Buffaloes 74-67 at Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 31 and winning 78-69 at Pullman, Wash., on Jan. 27.

The victory over Colorado at home was the second win of an eight-game winning streak for the Cougars that put them in position to challenge Arizona for the Pac-12 regular-season title.

Washington State swept Arizona but finished a game behind the Wildcats in the conference standings.

Colorado defeated sixth-seeded Utah 72-58 in a quarterfinal game Thursday night to earn its seventh straight victory.

“We’ve got two more games to win here,” said post player Eddie Lampkin Jr., who finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. “This is just the beginning.”

The Buffaloes were led by KJ Simpson’s 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Tristan da Silva finished with 14 points and six rebounds.

Colorado had 15 assists and only seven turnovers.

“We were digging in, trusting each other,” da Silva said. “We are making sure we’ve got our rotations down and playing together. We put a lot of work in last summer and in the fall.

“We know everybody can make shots. If we keep the ball moving, we’re in good shape.”

Colorado and Washington State were among the top four rebounding teams in the Pac-12 entering Thursday’s games.

Washington State was third averaging 37.7 rebounds a game while Colorado was next at 37.6.

Colorado outrebounded Utah 47-37, which led to 14 second-chance points for the Buffaloes. The Utes were No. 2 in the league in rebounding averaging 39.1 a game.

Washington State outrebounded Stanford 39-25 in its victory Thursday. The Cougars produced 42 points in the paint.

–Javier Morales, Field Level Media

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