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Cougs drop conference opener at UCLA

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NCAA Basketball: Washington State at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Man, what is it with the word/name “Holiday” and lousy WSU performances?

First, it was the Holiday Bowl. Then last night, it was UCLA’s Aaron Holiday and his 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting. Holiday was one of four UCLA Burins in double figures who helped hand the Washington State Cougars a 96-82 loss in the conference opener.

Despite having four players in double figures themselves, the Cougs couldn’t overcome the hot hands of the Bruins.

Robert Franks led the way with 20 points for WSU, while Carter Skaggs (17), Milan Acquaah (13) and Jeff Pollard (12) also chipped in. Malachi Flynn had nine points, all coming from three-point land.

Skaggs made five of eight three-point attempts with all of his points coming in the second half. A Skaggs three-pointer got WSU within 64-62 but it went downhill from there.

Holiday made all five of his three-point attempts. The three other Bruins in double figures were Jaylen Hands (19), Kris Wilkes (14) and Thomas Welsh (12).

There are lot of places to look if you’re wondering what went wrong for WSU. Defense is clearly an issue, and WSU gave up 14 offensive rebounds. On the other end, WSU had just three of its own.

The Cougs are 0-1 in the Pac-12 and head to USC to take on the Trojans on New Year’s Eve.

Football

The Holiday Bowl taste hasn’t quite gone away, but at some point you have to look to the future:

I’m looking forward to what Tay Martin has in store these next three seasons.

Cammon Cooper will enroll early, as will a handful of other early signees. That means if you’re at the Spring Game in Spokane (I assume it’ll still be in Spokane), you’ll get your first glimpse of Cooper running the WSU offense. I know it’s just the Spring Game, but still.

A couple other things to watch are the search for an athletic director and the search for a defensive coordinator, should Alex Grinch be on his way like we all think he will be.

WSU President Kirk Schulz still says the school is on track to have someone announced as athletic director by Feb. 1, which is about a month away. Whoever he or she is, they have a big job ahead of themselves.

As for the defensive coordinator, that search is kind of a wild card. The search that ended with Grinch’s hiring in 2015 took some time, which is fine. We’ll see how the next search will go.

What’s next for WSU’s Hercules Mata’afa and Alex Grinch? And who will the Cougars rebuild around on offense? | The Seattle Times
Will WSU still have Hercules Mata'afa and Alex Grinch in the fold when spring practice begins anew? And with Luke Falk and his top two receivers gone, who are the Cougars looking to rebuild around on offense?

Analysis | Three impressions from WSU’s 42-17 defeat to Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl | The Seattle Times
What to make of WSU's defeat to the Spartans in the Holiday Bowl

Basketball

UCLA outlasts Washington State in Pac-12 basketball opener | The Spokesman-Review
Aaron Holiday scored 33 points and UCLA led wire-to-wire in a 96-82 Pac-12 men’s basketball win over the WSU Cougars on Friday night at Pauley Pavilion.

Cougs Come up Short at No. 10 Oregon - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
"Come up short" is putting it nicely.

Pac-12

Hey, we’re not alone in the conference in laying a dud in the bowl game, if this makes you feel any better:

The record in bowl games isn’t an indictment of the entire conference, but man, 1-7 is awful. Utah is the only team with a victory, and Washington is the conference’s last chance at a bowl win.

So here’s hoping the Pac-12 goes 1-8!