Ernie Kent thought fatigue would be factor but that Cougs would also play through it; USC instead took commanding lead early and cruised

ERNIE KENT thought his team would be fatigued on the road at USC on Wednesday having logged an emotional Sunday night win over UW -- but he also thought the Cougars would play through it. That didn’t happen, as WSU trailed by 20 points at the half in an 87-64 loss to the Trojans.

“They just kind of gobbled us up -- we were really stagnant mentally in the game,” Kent told Matt Chazanow on the Cougar Radio Network after the loss.

Kent has talked about the lack of mental focus a number of times after losses this season. On Wednesday, 11 WSU turnovers in the first 20 minutes turned into 17 USC points on the way to a 48-28 halftime lead.

“As much as they tried to push through it … and I’m not making excuses but it is what it is and (the quick turnaround) is hard to do, especially against an athletic team like USC. I expected us to be fatigued, I thought we’d play through it,” said Kent.

Forward Robert Franks (pictured above) and guard Viont'e Daniels saw extended time off the bench with this one decided early. Daniels had 4 assists and a steal while Franks scored a career-high 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting, his 29 minutes were also a career high. Kent called Franks a “perfect" and prototype” stretch-4 after the game.

“They (USC) had their focus … we don’t quite match up with their athleticism. But at the same time, my bright moment I thought was Viont’e Daniels and Robert Franks were really, really good in the game. Two fresh guys off your bench, they did a tremendous job, particularly Robo. I mean, he had just a great game against a very athletic team. He showed flashes of just how good he can be as we develop him down the stretch and get him ready for next year,” said Kent.

True freshman point guard Malachi Flynn had a rough night, with zero points and no assists.

“I think, again, the game on Sunday just took so much out of everybody, they just didn’t have the energy tonight.  Ike (Iroegbu) wasn’t there mentally, physically. Josh (Hawkinson) wasn’t in the first half and played through it. I thought Conor (Clifford) tried to play through it. And that was the difference in the game … when you (play) a team of that caliber (without)  your physical and mental toughness, they’ll just gobble you up,” said Kent.

Kent said after the team’s academic session on Thursday he’ll give the Cougs time off in an effort to get the energy back before resuming the away-game routine on Friday.

“Sometimes less is better,” said Kent.

The Cougs face No. 3 UCLA Saturday at 7:15 p.m. in the regular season finale for both teams.

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