This Week in WSU Hoops: Izundu finally back?

PULLMAN -- Valentine Izundu has been given the "green light" to play against Arizona on Wednesday, but coach Ernie Kent will wait until game time to officially decide on Izundu's status, he said Tuesday.

Tip off is at 7 p.m. PT with TV coverage on the Pac-12 Networks. The Cougars are 9-12/1-8 while the No. 23/20 Wildcats are 17-5/5-4. WSU will then host Arizona State at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (also on the Pac-12 Networks).

The Cougs have lost their last seven games -- all of which Izundu missed due to a foot injury. Whatever you do, though, don't call the skid a losing streak. Kent told reporters at Beasley on Tuesday that he doesn't look at it as a losing streak, but more as "what do we need to do to get better and keep the big picture in mind with this program."

"We look at it in terms of where we're at and where we need to get to. I look at Ike Iroegbu, look at the year he's having, look how much he's grown along with Josh (Hawkinson)," Kent said. "Look at a Conor Clifford, when he puts together a really good game. A (Robert Franks) starting to figure some things out. I look at (Izundu) coming back to the party now and maybe giving us that spark we need."

Arizona has lost three Pac-12 games on the road, with all three losses three points or less. If Washington State wants to pull off an upset, they'll need the crowd's energy and "a mentality to understand how hard we have to play on a possession-by-possession basis for 40 minutes," Kent said.

Senior Brett Boese believes communication and consistency will be big keys for the Cougars.

"We need to stay consistent, stay locked in, and communicating on the defensive end," he said. "Getting into a rhythm on defense and then if the offense can take over, I think we'll see a great game.

In three career games against the Wildcats, Josh Hawkinson -- the king of the double-double -- is averaging 7.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, and Arizona has several post players including Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski that will try to give the junior fits.

"They're both really talented and strong down low," Hawkinson said. "Last time we doubled them, and they exposed us from the outside. We're going to have to continue to play solid interior defense, and hopefully this time the guards won't beat us as bad."

With the game on a Wednesday, it could be tough for students to make it out to games, but Hawkinson has a message for everyone.

"There's a really good opponent coming into Beasley," he said. "They've been showing out in numbers especially the students, ... so just keep hanging in there, and it's just a process."

Notable Notes:
- Hawkinson is at 15 double-doubles this season which is six away from breaking his own WSU single-season record. He is nine double-doubles from tying Mark Hendrickson for second place on WSU's career double-doubles list.

- With one assist on Wednesday, Iroegbu will break a tie with Marcus Capers and take over 17th place for assists on the all-time WSU list.

- The Cougars have lost eight-straight games to Arizona, including a 90-66 setback in Tucson last month.

- WSU is 9-1 when leading at halftime this season, and the Cougs are 0-11 when trailing after the first 20 minutes.


Cougfan Top Stories