By Nate Hanson
The Washington State Cougars (11-16, 2-11) look to the right the ship in a big way against #12 Arizona (22-4, 10-4) tomorrow in Tucson. The Cougs are on a 7 game losing streak, while the Wildcats have won 2 straight. Arizona won the previous meeting 79-65 in Beasley Coliseum.
The Cougs loss to Arizona State Wednesday resembled their blowout loss against UCLA just a few weeks ago. After a quick start, the team seemed to lack effort, especially on the defensive end. Arizona State shot 50 percent from the field against the Cougs. No matter what team you are, if you give up 50 percent shooting to you’re opponent, you will come out on the losing side. Carrick Felix tore the Cougs apart inside with 23 point and 11 rebounds, while freshman sensation Jahii Carson added 21 of his own. The two combined to shoot 14-25 from the field. The Coug defense needs to regroup if they have a chance of stopping Arizona’s top scorers.
Solomon Hill was red-hot from beyond the arc in the first matchup. He hit six treys, accounting for his 18 points. Hill’s performance was symbolic for the Wildcats as a whole. Four players got into double figures (Hill, Lyons, Tarczewski and Ashley), and the team shot 47 percent from the field. Arizona is one of the best teams in the country at moving the ball around offensively until someone gets an open look. If the Cougs are going to have a shot in this game they need to keep Arizona under 40 percent shooting.
Offensively, the Cougs had success against Arizona. The team shot 41 percent from the field and had 4 guys in double figures, Motum, Shelton, Lacy and Woolridge. One of the few bright spots in PAC-12 play for the Cougs has been the offensive emergence of Royce Woolridge. It appears Woolridge is more comfortable playing in Head Coach Ken Bone’s system and he’s filling in for the lack of production of other Cougs. Woolridge had a career-high 36 points in the heart-wrenching loss to Oregon. He followed that performance with 16 against the Sun Devils on Wednesday. If Woolridge can get into the 20’s, and Brock Motum and Davonte Lacy get at least 15 each, the Cougs will have a chance.
It will be a tall task for the Cougs on Saturday. A lot has to go right, but if the Cougs are able to slow down Arizona and keep them under 70, then WSU should be right in the ballgame. If Arizona gets over 70, it could be another long game for Bone’s team. Game time is set for noon tomorrow and can be seen on Root Sports.