Houston transfer Valentine Izundu helped the Washington State men’s team beat visiting Idaho State 85-67.
PULLMAN – The Valentine Izundu that Washington State coach Ernie Kent has hinted at, a 6-foot-10 leaper who might lead the Pac-12 in blocked shots, who can dunk whenever he has the ball near the basket and can alter many times more shots than he rejects, finally showed up in the Cougars’ 85-67 victory over Idaho State.
The Houston transfer had foreshadowed his breakout performance in two exhibition games and WSU’s season-opening victory over Northern Arizona. A pull-down-the-rim dunk here, a shot swatted into the fifth row there.
The 2,662 fans in attendance Friday night got the full show.
The best player for WSU (2-0) is Josh Hawkinson, whose 19 points and 14 rebounds kept him on pace to surpass his own school record for double-doubles.
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Lead guard Ike Iroegbu led the team in points (21) and assists (seven), and made 10 of 12 free-throw attempts.
But their impact on the game did not overshadow Izundu’s 10 points, seven rebounds and six blocks.
“They have to suck down on him and so when we penetrate, (the other team has) to be aware of (Izundu), so it creates a little more space for me,” Hawkinson said.
The bulk of Izundu’s influence came after halftime, when the Cougars overcame a lethargic first half on defense that saw them lead 44-37 at the break and score just four fast-break points, due to Idaho State’s generous employment of a zone defense.
“What they forced us to do was to toughen up, to get better defensively, to block out tougher, to be more accountable to three-point shooters,” Kent said. “They forced us to score against a zone. A team that played 95 percent of the time in zone, and we still scored 85 points, that’s a lot of points against a zone.”
Izundu made all four of his shots — three dunks and a jump hook that followed an offensive rebound — and both of his free-throw attempts. His dunks energized teammates and the crowd.
Top 10 games
At No. 2 Kentucky 78, Wright State 63
Tyler Ulis scored a career-high 21 points to lead the Wildcats (4-0) past the Raiders. The 5-foot-9 Ulis was 5 for 9 from the field and 10 of 12 from the line.
At No. 3 Maryland 65, Rider 58
Robert Carter Jr. scored 13 points and freshman Diamond Stone added 12 as the Terrapins (3-0) rallied from 14 points down in the second half to defeat the Broncos (0-3).
No. 5 Duke 79, Va. Commonwealth 71
Grayson Allen bounced back from an off game against Kentucky by scoring a career-high 30 points, and the Blue Devils (3-1) beat VCU (2-1) in the opening round of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Allen, who averaged 27 points in the Blue Devils’ first two games of the season, was held to six points on 2-for-11 shooting by Kentucky on Tuesday night in Chicago. Facing the Rams, he looked a lot more like the player who had an exceptional Final Four last season in helping Duke earn its fifth national championship.
The Blue Devils (3-1) will face Georgetown, which beat Wisconsin, in the title game Sunday.
No. 6 Virginia 87, Long Beach St. 52
Marial Shayok had a career-high 17 points, London Perrantes added 15 and the Cavaliers (3-1) reached the Charleston Classic final in Charleston, S.C.
Virginia will play George Mason on Sunday in the championship game.
At No. 8 Oklahoma 85, McNeese St. 56
Buddy Hield scored 24 points and the Sooners (2-0) romped in their home opener.
• Tyrone Wallace scored 20 points to help No. 15 California defeat visiting East Carolina 70-62.
• Chris Boucher scored 17 points as No. 25 Oregon beat visiting Savannah State 75-59.
• George King scored 18 points, leading host Colorado to an 85-63 victory over Portland.