WSU's Ernie Kent puts Cougs on blast after loss to UA; Cougar players can either make some changes “or get the hell out of the way"

ERNIE KENT called out his Cougar players after a 78-59 loss to No. 5 Arizona. Washington State’s head basketball coach said the Cougs have become too accepting of losing and that the players can either make some changes “or get the hell out of the way.”

Whether the Cougs win or lose, Kent usually talks about the improvement he sees and emphasizes the positives. Not on Thursday. Kent after the loss to Arizona told Matt Chazanow on the Cougar Radio Network he had a message for his team before Thursday’s game -- and that it did not resonate with his players clearly upset him. Kent likened it to a teacher giving a student the same test, and also providing the answers, over and over.

“When you come out of a timeout … and do the opposite of what a coach just drew up, that’s mental,” said Kent. “I told them in the locker room and I’ll tell this community: I’m going to wear my suits, I’m going to rant and rave, because I’m not lowering my standards. No. We are going to win here and this is going to be a first-class program. You either come up to that level or you’ve got to get the hell out of the way is my feeling on it.

“These young kids are good enough to do it but they have to hold themselves more accountable to their school, to their scholarships, to this program, to execution, to being ready, buying in and letting (losing) bother them.”

Kent said the Cougs missed eight point-blank layups in the first half.  The Wildcats also dominated the Cougs on the boards 42-28 including 14 offensive rebounds, while outscoring WSU 17-4 in second-chance points.

“This is a talented group that plays hard enough but it’s the poise, it’s the mental … That’s the fifth-ranked team in the country and if you just make your layups, it’s a totally different game at halftime … too many of these guys think they can just show up and play,” said Kent.

Washington State held a slight lead for most of the first half against Arizona. But the Cougs went the final four minutes without a field goal, missing several opportunities at close range. ‘Zona outscored the WSU 10-2 over the final 3:50 and WSU suddenly trailed by nine at the break. WSU never bounced back. Arizona methodically put the game out of reach over the first seven minutes of the second half.

“Ike (Iroegbu) and Josh (Hawkinson) have been here for 300 practices,” said Kent. “(Charles Callison, Robert Franks, Viont’e Daniels) have been here for 200 practices and the new guys, 100. And it’s only about 25 things you need to teach and it’s again and again and again. No baseline drive, shot pressure, block out, make your layups, good shot – it’s the same stuff.

“And I’m going to hold them accountable, I’ll get after them again, we’ll bounce back and we’ll be ready to play Saturday.”

UP NEXT: Wazzu vs. ASU on Saturday (2 pm, Pac-12 Network).

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