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Cougar hoops: Welcome back, Curtis Allen

SOME THINGS GO beyond winning basketball games. Cougar assistant coach Curtis Allen, for the first time since mid-November, returned to the bench for Washington State’s victory over Idaho on Wednesday night.

And there were smiles all around, including a moment with Ike Iroegbu (pictured above).

In a scary moment, Curtis Allen was hospitalized during the Cougs’ tournament appearance in the U.S. Virgin Islands last month. Former WSU assistant coach Jeff Hironaka tweeted on Nov. 19 Allen had suffered a heart event but was on the mend after surgery. It wasn’t long before Allen was back on Twitter.

Washington State (5-4) is in Kansas City for a Saturday matchup with Kansas State (5 pm,  Fox Sports Kansas City and online at ESPN3). The Wildcats sit atop the Big-12 with an 8-1 record and K-State is ranked No. 34 in Ken Pomeroy's college basketball ratings. WSU is slotted at No. 193.  Kent said it will be the greatest road challenge of the young season.

"We're going to have to really handle ourselves and be composed," said Kent.

WSU has a better chance of doing that with Allen back on the bench. Welcome back, Curtis.

* Allen is in his eighth season as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Washington State and his third on Kent’s staff.  A Tacoma native, Allen is wired into the Seattle-area recruiting scene having played for Washington from 2000-2004 and the prestigious Seattle Rotary (AAU) family. He is one of Kent's three assistant coaches, along with Greg Graham and Silvey Dominguez.

* WSU coordinator of basketball operations Tim Marrion helped fill in while Allen recovered.

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