The Washington State Cougars, fresh off a beating at the hands of the powerful Oregon Ducks, have to recover fast ahead of a road date with Stanford.
The Washington State Cougars opened Pac-12 play with a rousing win over Washington in Seattle and handled the hapless Oregon State Beavers. Then they ran into Oregon. The then-number 15 Ducks won comfortably in Pullman, 85-66.
Now the Washington State Cougars are back on the road in northern California to take on the 8-8, 0-4 Stanford Cardinal tomorrow and the 11-5, 2-2 Cal Bears on Saturday. Ernie Kent’s team shouldn’t hang its head.
The Cougars have already doubled their Pac-12 wins from last year by going 2-1 to start conference play this season.
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How much of an improvement the Washington State Cougars make this season largely depends on freshman Malachi Flynn, who earned a start at point guard in WSU’s season-opener and never looked back. Senior forward Josh Hawkinson has appeared to take yet another step forward as a contributor for WSU. He is nearing a Cougars’ record for career rebounds, set by Steve Puidokas in the 1970s. He needs 135 more boards to break Puidokas’ record of 992.
Stanford is struggling in their opening games of Pac-12 play, going 0-4 to start the season. The Cougars haven’t beaten the Cardinal in Stanford since 2011, when they pulled out a 61-58 victory. Stanford has won seven of the last ten meetings overall.
The question throughout the season will be if Flynn can give the Washington State Cougars enough star power to rise in the Pac-12 standings. Kent had a rough season last year, but his team already appears better this season and he has a substantively longer leash than his counterpart in Seattle, Lorenzo Romar.
The Cougars tip off against Stanford tomorrow at 8 pm and against Cal on Saturday at 1 pm. Both games will be on the Pac-12 Network.