Hoops: Cougs lose on road to Kansas State, surprising announcement five minutes before tip Derrien King transferring

FIVE MINUTES BEFORE Washington State tipped off vs. Kansas State on the road, WSU SID released a short statement that 6-6 junior forward Derrien King was transferring midseason. The surprising announcement meant WSU would now be short three players vs. K-State. The Cougs did make it interesting early though, leading almost all of the first half before falling 70-56 in Kansas City.

WSU’s statement on King transferring didn’t specify if the junior was leaving in search of more playing time or for some other reason.  Here’s the full WSU release:

Men’s basketball student-athlete Derrien King will transfer from Washington State University, head coach Ernie Kent announced Saturday.  “We’d like to thank Derrien for all the contributions he’s made to the program over the last year and a half,” Kent said. “We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.” King, a junior (6-6 forward) joined WSU for his sophomore year prior to the 2015-16 season. He played in 35 games over his career, including nine this season. He will complete the fall semester which concludes Dec. 16.

After the game, Kent told the Associated Press it was King's decision.  ''Any time a player leaves, it hurts your team,'' Kent said, ''and yet you're in an era of transferring and he made the decision to do that.''

King played in all nine games this season before Saturday, starting five. He averaged 24.6 minutes and 6.6 ppg.  He connected on 17 of 60 shots (28 percent) and 5 of 25 from 3-point land (20 percent). He shot 76 percent from the free throw line (20 of 26) and averaged 4.3 rebounds per game.

Minutes into the game, King's name was no longer found on the official WSU roster.  Apart from the news, however, it was a pretty good first half for Wazzu against K-State. 

The Cougs were playing without forward Jeff Pollard (mono) and Viont'e Daniels (concussion), and with King out , but WSU jumpd out to a nine-point lead and controlled most of the first half - WSU didn't trail until just before break. Down 28-26 at the start of the second half, K-State slowly built the gap to double-digits and with WSU limited by an 8-man rotation, the Cougs never could put together a run.

The Cougs didn't shoot a free throw until less than 10 minutes remained in the game.  But K-State only shot 12, making seven, while the Cougs finished 7 of 8 from the line.

Josh Hawkinson and Charles Callison tied for the team-high with 10 points apiece, and Hawkinson pulled down 10 rebounds to post his eighth double-double of the season and 48th of his career.

Neither team shot well in the first half but WSU's defense faltered in the second, with K-State hitting 16 of 31 shots (52 percent).  The Cougs were outrebounded 32-25 and 10-7 on the offensive glass and the Wildcats walloped the Cougs in the paint, 30-16.

 Washington State next plays Dec. 17 at home vs. Santa Clara.

BIG PICTURE: Washington State probably knew it would be a struggle when it had a tough time beating Carroll College in an exhibition game. But the Cougars' only wins since mid-November have come against Utah Valley and Idaho, with losses to Loyola, San Jose State and New Orleans along the way.
- Dave Skretta (Associated Press)

•    Hawkinson moved into 23rd on WSU’s all-time scoring list and now has 1,088 points. He also moved into sixth on WSU’s career rebounding list (814).


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