The Washington State men's basketball team dropped their eighth consecutive game Wednesday night, falling to the #23/20 Arizona Wildcats by a score of 79-64.
The Cougars opened the contest with some energy that has been missing in recent weeks, as Ike Iroegbu scored the first two points of the game after a messy tip-off win by the Wildcats. At one point in the first half, the Cougs held a nine-point advantage over the visitors but their effort was still filled with mental lapses as that lead evaporated to a nine-point deficit at halftime.
In this Ernie Kent "run and gun" style offense, turnovers are to be expected. The problem now is that the Cougars are halfway through their conference schedule with just one win and the same mistakes are being made. Poor shot selection, balls thrown out of bounds, and bad fouls being called are occurring what seems to be night in and night out. Washington State appeared ready for Pac-12 play after their 82-59 win over New Mexico on Christmas Day down in Hawaii. In the six weeks since, however, it's been a much different story.
Ryan Anderson scored a career-high 31 points for Arizona and grabbed 12 rebounds. The Boston College transfer has been a nice surprise for Arizona after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Gabe York and Mark Tollefsen added 12 points each.
Washington State was led by Iroegbu and Josh Hawkinson, who had 20 and 14 points, respectively. Hawkinson also recorded his 16th double-double of the season, collecting 17 rebounds.
Cougar center Valentine Izundu was dressed but didn't see any playing time. Izundu is recovering from a foot injury which has kept him out of the last eight games, creating problems defensively for Washington State. Kent has had to stretch out the minutes of Conor Clifford and Junior Longrus in Izundu's absence, but neither of them have the shot-blocking ability that Izundu possess. The fact that he was dressed to play is a good sign and ideally he'll get some playing time in WSU's upcoming match-ups.
The Cougars host Arizona State Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. The Sun Devils sit at 11th place in the Pac-12 standings, one game ahead of Washington State and are coming off an overtime loss to Washington on Wednesday night.