Ernie Kent's return to Eugene did not go as he was probably scripting it in his head. After a comedy of errors in the first half where nearly nothing went right, Oregon and Joseph Young had the game in the bag by halftime and held serve in the 2nd half to blow the Cougs out, 95-72, at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.
The Ducks played today's game without their leading rebounder and shot-blocker, Jordan Bell who was suspended over an altercation with a parking official. Oregon made do with the missing player and went with a small lineup. So naturally you'd think Ernie Kent starting big men Jordan Railey and Josh Hawkinson would work on getting the ball inside, right?
The Cougs faced with a 2-3 zone chose to shoot over it, rather than exploit the lack of size in the size in the Oregon post and it went about as well as you would've imagined. Turns out this strategy only if you've activated the cheat codes in the Settings menu of a video game, which is how WSU was able to knock down 108 in the previous meetup between these teams. Outside of a miniature barrage where Dexter Kernich-Drew, Que Johnson and Davonte Lacy made four straight, WSU shot 2-12 from behind the arc (6 of 16 overall), while only taking six shots inside the paint.
And while the zone of the Ducks completely stymied the Cougs over the first twenty minutes, the Cougs in turn deployed the matador variety of a zone, allowing Oregon to make 17 of 24 2-pointers (71%) and 4 of 11 behind the arc. Washington State again had double-digit turnovers in a half, which led to 23 Oregon points in turn.
At the ten minute mark, Oregon led WSU 28-4 (on pace for 112-16) and save for the four consecutive threes from Kernich-Drew and co, it could've stayed along that same pace. Davonte Lacy racked up three fouls early and the Ducks made him pay for it, allowing Joe Young six first-half layups. And despite the size deficiencies Oregon played with, Junior Longrus was a healthy scratch.
Oregon entered the locker room up 52-28, allowing fans to leave at halftime.
The Cougs opened up the 2nd half with a focused attempt on getting Lacy good looks, and he opened up with the first five points of the half, but any chance at a miracle comeback was squashed quickly as Dewayne Benjamin and Dillon Brooks knocked down three consecutive three-pointers and never looked back in the 2nd half, either
While we outlined earlier how this game would feature a pronounced lack of defense, it remained disheartening to watch WSU allow so many easy baskets, even after falling behind by 30 (Today makrs the first time I've ever seen a team allowing a wide open layup within four seconds of making a free throw). After it was clear the Cougar starters had given up, the lone drama remaining for the last ten minutes or so was whether or not Young would complete a triple-double (no) and whether or not Oregon would score 100 (also no). The final shot the Cougs would take was Aaron Cheatum airballing a free throw.
Kernich-Drew led the Cougs with 18 points in the loss, who actually played pretty well. He was the lone player the WSU backcourt willing to put the ball on the ground in the 1st half, he used the gaps along the baseline that the 2-3 zone allows and made half of the team's 3-pointers during the entirety of the game. Lacy had a night to forget, whose 13 points came from volume three-point shooting and only got to the free throw line once.
With the loss, WSU drops its sixth of the last seven matchups and falls into 10th place into the Pac-12 with a 4-7 record (10-13 overall). WSU has not won in Eugene since 2009.
Next up, the Cougs head home to face Arizona State Friday night, who are riding high after knocking off rival Arizona today