The Washington State Cougars suffered what is probably only their second or third most embarrassing loss of the season when they fell to the No. 9 Arizona Wildcats by a score of 100-72 at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman on Wednesday.
The loss was WSU’s 12th in its last 15 games, dropping the Cougs’ record to 9-12 overall and 1-8 in the Pac-12. Arizona moves to 19-4 and 9-1.
The fact that Arizona reached triple digits on the scoreboard gives you some indication of the Wildcats’ offensive prowess in this one, but it actually probably undersells the ease with which they scored. The Wildcats averaged 1.41 points per possession, the third-worst mark for a WSU defense in the kenpom.com era (2002 and beyond).
Half of the 10 worst performances now belong to Ernie Kent teams. The other half belong to Paul Graham.
Deandre Ayton showed why he really should be playing in the NBA right now, scoring 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting, most of them dunks and putbacks. He added 11 rebounds and couple of blocks. Allonzo Trier had 24 points on just nine field goal attempts.
The game was actually tied at 20 after eight minutes in the first half, as the Cougs did a nice job keeping up for a while. But that eventually wore off for WSU, while Arizona never slowed down. At one point late in the game, Arizona was posting 1.52 points per possession, but the last few minutes of garbage time eventually brought that down.
Robert Franks led WSU with 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Sadly, he was the only player who showed up.
This is getting embarrassing. Getting beaten by 30 by a Pac-12 rival is bad, but it’s even worse when it’s not even the worst loss of the season. (That honor belongs to the 27-point loss at Idaho.) It’s one thing to lose. It’s another to not even put up a fight, and that’s where the Cougs have been the last two games, completely wilting in front of their opponent. The defense is a complete and total clown show. It’s one thing to be unable to deal with Ayton, who destroys everyone; it’s another to continually suffer mental breakdowns. That’s on the coaching, of course.
At least Kent is still trying? I guess? The WSU coach promised a shake-up before last game, but the changes were relatively small. In this one, Kent benched Malachi Flynn for the first time his 51 games as a Coug. It’s unclear what the motivation was, although this tweet makes it sound as if it was punitive. If it was just to get through to Flynn — who had a bad game against Washington — it didn’t really work: He was 3-of-10 for 11 points. (He did have 11 assists, though.)
Davante Cooper lives. The junior college center was thought to be a pretty decent recruiting win for Kent, but he’s been buried on the bench; he suffered through some injuries early in the season, and he just looks a bit pudgy. He played 11 minutes, and while he wasn’t an impact guy, he did do some OK things, including blocking three shots. (Of course, he also had his shot blocked twice. Still ... plus one!)
Up Next: Arizona State on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT.