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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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WSU makes a statement in Hawaii

COUGARS

Washington State went into the Diamond Head Classic hoping to make a name for itself nationally. The second half of its first game, a 83-57 whipping of Mississippi State, should have done that. And the Cougars will have an even better chance Thursday, when they face 15th-ranked Baylor in the second round of the tournament. Read on for more.

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• The Baylor news is a little premature as I write this, but the Bears are winning big against USD, so we'll go with it. Remember, this is the same Baylor team that lost last week to Gonzaga, so the Cougars should be able to at least compete with the Bears. And WSU and Baylor know each other well after playing in back-to-back years thanks to the now-defunct Big12/Pac-10 Hardwood Classic. ... As for Mississippi State, the Bulldogs competed for a while then, after they fell behind in the second half, basically went in the tank. On Bud Nameck's postgame show, WSU coach Ken Bone said he didn't want to say they quit – I will and they did – but said basically the same thing using different words. That's what good defense will do to a mentally unsound team, make them quit. We saw it a lot during the Bennett era and we're seeing it in splashes this year. If the Cougar defense continues to improve, they will be able to compete with anyone in the Pac-10 anywhere. ... By the way, here is my game story done off the TV and with a phone interview. ... The nearly 17 minute stretch of the second half when WSU held the Bulldogs to nine points is about as good as it gets. ... I was telling someone recently how lucky I have been to be able to cover two outstanding perimeter defenders in my tenure with Washington State, Kyle Weaver and Marcus Capers. They are completely different players and people, but when they are focused and loose, they can control a game on the defensive end. It's as much fun to watch, maybe even more so, than a 25-point-per-game scorer. ...

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• That's it for now. We'll be back before the game tomorrow. Until then ...



Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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