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Cougars get rare win over UCLA

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This team may not be too bad!

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, and how ‘bout them Cougs??!! Kyle Smith and his Washington State Cougars collected what is easily the biggest win of his young tenure so far on Saturday, defeating the UCLA Bruins 79-71. Now I recognize that this isn’t the traditional UCLA vintage, but the Bruins did beat the Washington Huskies on Thursday night and, as always, certainly brought the far more talented roster into the game.

It says a lot for Kyle Smith that he’s got this hastily assembled team playing at a higher level than they did at any point last season. Even more notable is that the Cougars could have folded when facing a double-digit deficit almost midway through the second half. Instead, they scored 13 of the game’s next 15 points, clawing back into the game and forcing overtime.

Many teams and players with WSU’s track record would have been satisfied with the fact that they made a game of it, but not these guys. Instead, they took control of the five-minute bonus period, scoring eight of the first nine points and never letting UCLA have another possession with a chance to tie or take the lead. Awesome.

Anyone who has followed WSU Basketball long enough knows how lopsided this series has been. It seems like most seasons when the Bruins come to Beasley, the Cougs are very competitive but somehow find a way to lose. I wanted to find out for myself how rare Saturday night really was, so let’s fire up the wayback machine, shall we?

I figure 40 years is a decent enough sample size, so I went all the way back to the 1980-81 season, when UCLA left Pullman with a 59-50 win. The Cougars bounced back the next season, defeating the 16th-ranked Bruins 57-51. The sixth-ranked Bruins came to Pullman the next year and left with a loss once again and suddenly I’m wondering why I dove down this rabbit hole.

After a decent amount of success in the 80s, things went quickly south. There’s even a 48-45 loss in there. You won’t believe this but that was under Dick Bennett. A few years later, WSU managed all of 30 points. Not even Tony Bennett could muster a home win over the Bruins, going 0-3. After 40 seasons, a couple of which didn’t feature a matchup on the Palouse, Saturday’s win was just WSU’s ninth in 38 tries at home against UCLA.

Besides UCLA almost always winning, the common theme I noticed was how close so many of WSU’s losses were. Seemed like there were several in the 1-2 point range. Heck, even Paul Graham stayed within five once! This is all to say that we should savor what happened on Saturday night, because a win over UCLA’s basketball team should always be considered special. Hopefully it’s the first of many. Go Cougs.

Basketball

Kyle Smith notches first marquee win as Washington State coach in 79-71 overtime thriller | The Spokesman-Review
The Cougars trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half against an upstart Bruins team that was still riding a wave of confidence after an upset win at Washington two days earlier.

UCLA’s defense crumbles in crunch time of overtime loss to Washington State
“We played with no toughness in the second half,” Cronin said.

UCLA Runs Out of Gas, Loses on Road to Washington State in OT 79-71 - Bruins Nation
The Bruins blew an 11-point second-half lead in this one.

Kyle Smith’s postgame wardrobe is pretty great.

This Week in Parenting

Christmas Break is in its final throes. Praise be.

Millennium Falcon Update: Lots of building while the boys were at home, and a couple moments of frustration for yours truly. The complexity and detail of this thing is something to behold, as is the sturdiness. Twice now, I’ve noticed a piece just slightly out of place, but the parts are so intertwined that it takes like 30 minutes and a little brute force to get everything properly aligned. Then there are the moments where the boys get lazy and accidentally kick a piece or two off, resulting in a multi-minute search/backtrack through the novella of directions to try and find where the removed piece belongs.

Despite all that, it’s been a fun project with the kiddos. This is our progress so far (we even got the engine-thingies on!), and now that they’re headed back to school I expect construction to more closely mirror the pace of German road repair. That is to say what should take a week or two will probably take six months.

Our dinner table has morphed into conversations that involve me throwing out lines and Mrs. Kendall becoming exasperated. For example, I told the boys that they need to master Spanish before we head to Barcelona next month. When they told me that wasn’t possible, I said all they needed to do was say the word in English and add an “O” at the end. Two of the three people at the table laughed.

We’ve also discovered that the 11 year-old has developed a love for hot chocolate, so much so that he makes his own, to include boiling the water. He made a cup the other day but failed to put all the dishes in the sink. When Mrs. Kendall got home, she asked why there was a pot sitting on the stove. He owned up to it, and put the pot in its proper place. While this was happening, I told him that he should never let mom find his pot in the house. Once again, Mrs. Kendall didn’t think it was as funny as I did.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: I bought a bottle of Kasteel Trignac XII - a cognac barrel-aged tripel from 2016 - at a bazaar this fall, and decided to save it for a special occasion. New Year’s Eve seemed appropriate, so open it I did. Sensational.

Beer Experts Agree, These Storylines Defined The Last Decade In Brewing
The growth of America’s craft brewing sector is arguably one of the most compelling business stories of all time. But how did we get here, and what major storylines do beer industry experts believe defined the last decade of brewing?

Non-Sports

You may have noticed this guy’s name in the news recently. Though dated, this profile is very well done.

The Shadow Commander | The New Yorker
Qassem Suleimani is the Iranian operative who has been reshaping the Middle East. Now he’s directing Assad’s war in Syria.