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Updated Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 01:01 PM

Kansas starts fast, smothers Cougars, 78-41

By Joel Petterson
Seattle Times staff

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the opening minutes against No. 12 Kansas, Washington State's Royce Woolridge looked like he was having fun chatting with former Jayhawks teammates during breaks in play.

But by the end of the half, none of the Cougars were having much fun, and by the end of the game their faces showed nothing but defeat after a 78-41 drubbing at Sprint Center on Monday.

Coming off a disappointing overtime loss to Pepperdine on Friday, a WSU team still looking for its offensive identity was rewarded with its toughest nonconference matchup of the year, and the Jayhawks sucked any drama out of this one well before halftime.

Woolridge, a sophomore who transferred from Kansas in 2011 and sat out last season, had six of Washington State's 14 turnovers (nine in the first half) in the Cougars' first game against a ranked team since playing then-No. 18 Washington in January 2011.

Kansas freshman Ben McLemore made two three-pointers in the first two minutes and scored 10 of his 11 points as the Jayhawks jumped out to a 25-9 lead.

"The plan was to try to keep them out of the paint as best we could and to get a hand up on the three-point shooters," WSU coach Ken Bone said. "They had not proven up until this game that they could shoot some threes."

KU proved it quickly, however, hitting five of 10 shots beyond the arc in the first half. The Cougars, meanwhile, proved they still need someone to complement leading scorer Brock Motum. WSU shot 29.9 percent compared to KU's 45.5 and was out-rebounded 29-20.

Motum finished with 14 points — the only WSU player in double digits — and had seven rebounds. But he picked up his third foul with 1:13 left in the first half. Motum was matched up against last year's Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Jeff Withey, who had five of KU's nine blocks.

"Any time any of us went into the key, he was a big presence," Motum said of Withey. "So, yeah, I'd say he's one of the top defenders I've played against."

Guards Woolridge and Mike Ladd combined for 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting for WSU, while DaVonte Lacy played just five minutes before leaving with a left knee injury.

"It's real sore," Bone said of Lacy's injury. "Sore enough to where our trainer said he could not come back in the second half."

Bone said Lacy was "very questionable" for Tuesday's game here against Texas A&M, which lost 70-49 to Saint Louis.

If there's a bright spot for the Cougars, it's that they won't have to leave their home state after Tuesday's game until a Jan. 9 game at Stanford. A six-game stretch of games in Pullman offers a chance to solve an offensive puzzle that, to this point, hasn't taken much shape.

Note

• Freshman guard Rio Adams, a graduate of Rainier Beach High School, played eight minutes for Kansas, finishing 0 for 4 from the field.

WSU (2-2) — Motum 6-18 1-1 14, Shelton 3-5 0-0 7, Ladd 2-10 0-0 5, Lacy 0-1 0-0 0, Woolridge 2-6 0-0 5, DiIorio 3-5 2-2 8, Hunter 0-1 0-0 0, Longrus 0-1 0-0 0, Ballard 0-1 0-0 0, Hayenga 0-1 0-0 0, Boese 0-2 0-0 0, Kernich-Drew 1-6 0-0 2. Totals 17-57 3-3 41.

KANSAS (3-1) — Young 1-2 2-2 4, Withey 4-8 0-0 8, Johnson 3-9 0-0 8, McLemore 3-6 3-4 11, Releford 6-7 3-3 17, Tharpe 2-5 0-0 5, Adams 0-4 0-0 0, White III 1-2 2-2 5, Wesley 1-3 1-2 3, Manning 0-1 0-0 0, Self 0-0 0-0 0, Roberts 0-1 0-0 0, Garrett 0-0 0-0 0, Traylor 2-4 1-1 5, Ellis 2-3 8-8 12. Totals 25-55 20-22 78.

Halftime — Kansas 50-21. Three-point goals — WSU 4-22 (Shelton 1-2, Woolridge 1-4, Ladd 1-5, Motum 1-5, Boese 0-1, Lacy 0-1, Kernich-Drew 0-4), Kansas 8-24 (Releford 2-3, McLemore 2-4, Johnson 2-8, White III 1-2, Tharpe 1-3, Roberts 0-1, Manning 0-1, Adams 0-2). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — WSU 29 (Motum 7), Kansas 40 (Young 10). Assists — WSU 7 (Ballard, Motum 2), Kansas 15 (Johnson, Tharpe 4). Total fouls — WSU 20, Kansas 11.

Tuesday

WSU vs. Texas A&M, 4 p.m., ESPN3


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