WSU’s Ernie Kent after loss to Arizona: Same old song and dance

ERNIE KENT sounded frustrated on the postgame radio show Wednesday night. And why wouldn’t he. The Cougars’ losing streak reached eight games after a 79-64 loss to No. 23/20 Arizona in Pullman. It was the same mistakes being made over and over that drew Kent’s ire.

“For us it’s the same tape.. the same film again. And that film is the mental slippage we have throughout the course of the game,” said Kent.

Kent also put the onus on the Cougar players to turn things around.

“There are plays on the floor to be made, and they’re not made,” said Kent. “Layups to be finished, and they’re not finished. Rotations to be made, and they forget to rotate.

“We drill it, we drill it, we drill it – again and again and again and again…As coaches, you can put a system in. You can be as demanding -- you can practice, you can drill. But ultimately the players have to go on the floor and they have to perform.”

Washington State held an eight-point lead midway through the first half but allowed Arizona to erase all of it in roughly a 90-second stretch. Arizona then went on to build a nine-point lead at the half. The Wildcats effectively finished the Cougars off the first three minutes of the second half after building a 14-point lead.

“It has nothing to do with talent,” said Kent. “It has nothing to do with (being) physical… there are a lot of plays we’re starting to leave out there and that’s kinda concerning to me. But we’ll just go back to the drawing board and push through it.”

The Cougars were outscored 36-22 in the paint and surrendered 31 points to Arizona forward Ryan Anderson. Forward and defensive presence Valentine Izundu remained out of action for the Cougars, missing his eighth straight game and center Conor Clifford ran into foul trouble.

Josh Hawkinson notched another double-double with 14 points and 17 rebounds. But the junior forward didn’t score in the second half. Ike Iroegbu led the Cougars with 20 points. But two other Cougar guards had nights to forget, said Kent.

Que Johnson and Charles Callison, they were a combined 5 of 25 in 64 minutes,” said Kent. “You’re just not going to beat a lot of teams like that… those are layups or wide open shots or just an opportunity to force a couple things, that they have got to figure out.

"We’ve got the blueprint. The blueprint is in place. The blueprint works. It’s now about the players figuring it out… it’s going to take them longer than what we thought it would take them to figure this thing out.”

-Washington State shot 34.9 percent for the game, Arizona was 42.2 percent from the floor.

-Clifford was whistled for five fouls in 19 minutes. He finished with four points and one rebound.

-Hawkinson’s 16th double-double of the season was the 36th of his career.

-Iroegbu has reached the 20-point plateau in three of WSU’s last four games.  Iroegbu also had 7 rebounds vs. Arizona, tying his career high and was his personal best against a Pac=12 opponent. 

-Johnson finished with 10 points, his third-straight game in double figures.

-Next up: The Cougars host Arizona State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (TV: Pac-12 Network).

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