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Cougar D takes the night off in blowout loss

ERNIE KENT has often said his teams over the years haven't gotten enough credit for their defense. The Cougars didn't make a very good case of backing that up Friday night in a 90-77 loss to USC to open Pac-12 play. Washington State allowed USC to shoot nearly 60 percent from the field in the first half, with the Trojans leading by as many as 25 points before intermission.

Washington State (8-5. 0-1 Pac-12) never led, never made a serious run to threaten Southern Cal (12-2, 1-0).  With around eight minutes to go in the game, USC still led by 21 points. The Cougs never got closer than 12 points in the second half.

"I thought we started the game flat for whatever reason -- I'll take responsibility for that because we certainly talked enough about the energy in the game," said Kent.

USC shot 53 percent from the floor for the game as Washington State mustered only three steals and three blocked shots.

“It looked like a highlight reel out there," said Kent of USC.

Josh Hawkinson posted his 10th double-double of the season with 19 points and 13 rebounds. It was the 30th of his career and his eighth straight. The WSU school record is nine straight by Steve Puidokas in 1975-76.

Ike Iroegbu scored 13 points, Renard Suggs had nine.  Conor Clifford was 3 of 8 from the field with six points but only played 11 minutes.

"We were shocked, just about their athleticism and how much they took the fight to us early on," said Kent. "We kind of neutralized it later, and then obviously Conor wasn't scoring and he became a big liability having to guard that quickness on the floor, and we had to get him out of the game."

The last time WSU surrendered as many first half points as they did Friday was back in 2011 (Oregon, 54).

"I thought we did a much better job in the second half, but we ran out of gas, ran out of steam, ran out of time," Kent said.

Kent was asked if he wants to see WSU play at the tempo USC did on Friday night.

"Eventually -- but we don't have the athletes they have to play at that pace right now," said Kent. "We'll look a lot different with those new guys a year from now also, just in terms of pace, and confidence and those things. But right now, I'm sure it was an eye-opener for those new guys."

• WSU tied its season low with two 3-pointers.

• Washington State has now lost eight-straight Pac-12 openers.

• Next up: WSU hosts No. 25 UCLA on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. (TV: Pac-12 Networks).

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