After WSU went eight minutes in the first half without scoring last night, Head Coach Ernie Kent looked farther down his bench to see what would kick start the Cougars. Sophomore Derrien King and Freshman Robert Franks both got their most significant playing time of the season, but it wasn't enough to bring WSU back from a 15 point halftime deficit.
For both King and Franks, the majority of their minutes came in the second half, when the Cougs were able to get their offense back in rhythm. Franks played 16 of his 22 minutes in the final period, with his other six coming in the later part of the first half. King played all but one minute in the second half and was on the court for 26 total, the third most on the team.
Franks finished with 11 points, shooting 4-8 from the field and 1-4 from three in his first opportunity of conference play. The freshman forward had not played for more than 10 minutes since the Cougs played Portland St. in early December. When Franks played in the first half he was on the wrong end of a pair of highlight reel blocks, but responded well and scored two of WSU's nine field goals in the first 20 half.
King also scored 11 points against the Sun Devils, with most of his damage coming from the charity stripe. He went 5-6 from the line, and was a less efficient 3-8 on his other shots. The forward had played sparingly in the Cougs first seven games but saw an uptick in playing time near the end of non-conference play. King's 26 minutes against ASU were more than his combined total in the first three conference games.
While the game didn't miraculously turnaround when the pair played together for a big chunk of the second half, it was good to see the Cougs get out of their offensive slump. A lot of the second half points came from the usual cast of characters in Josh Hawkinson and Ike Iroegbu, but the offense was much more successful in the final 20 minutes with King and Franks on the floor. Both have the ability to shoot it from deep and that can help to space the floor for Ike and Charles Callison to drive to the rim.
King has some of, if not the prettiest shooting mechanics on the team and I'll fall in love with any big man who can stretch the court. The development of these two players will likely be vital to the success this team has the rest of the season and in the future.
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