Two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum in the Pac-12 will meet up at the McKale Center as the Washington State Cougars clash with the 12th-ranked Arizona Wildcats on Saturday.
This is the second half of a two-game swing for the Cougars through the Grand Canyon State. The first leg ended in a 69-57 defeat to Arizona State. The loss was the seventh straight for the Cougars, who at just 2-11 in league play find themselves in dead last in the Pac-12. With just one win in eight road contests its unlikely the Cougars will grab a win in this game or their next bout at Washington.
The Wildcats have recovered from a two-game slide with back-to-back victories. With its 70-52 rout of Washington on Wednesday, Arizona pulled even with No. 23 Oregon for the top spot in the Pac-12 with a 10-4 mark. Arizona has a 12-2 ledger in games played at the McKale Center and a stellar 22-4 mark overall. Arizona hits the road to face USC next.
Parity is not a word that would describe this conference rivalry. The Wildcats have won five straight against the Cougars, while leading the all-time series by a dominating 56-16 margin. Earlier this season Arizona secured a 79-65 victory at Beasley Coliseum.
In their loss to Arizona State the Cougars had a nearly 10-point difference in field-goal percentage as they allowed the Sun Devils to hit 50 percent from the field. The Cougars did manage a 15-2 edge in points off turnovers but a 15-5 deficit from the free-throw line hampered their efforts.
It doesn't take much searching to figure out why Washington State has been so dismal this season. The Cougars are the worst offensive team in the Pac-12, scoring just 63.9 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting. Washington State also struggles to control the boards as it brings in the fewest rebounds (33.6 pg) among Pac-12 squads. At 6-foot-10, Brock Motum (17.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) has no trouble filling up the bucket. The Cougars' offensive woes have become more pronounced with Mike Ladd (11.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg) missing the last three games with left knee irritation. The 6-foot-5 guard is still listed as questionable for this contest.
Arizona put forth a strong effort on both ends of the floor to coast by Washington. The Wildcats shot 47.1 percent from the floor and hit 6-of-15 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Arizona limited the Huskies to just 30.8 percent shooting, including 1-of-11 attempts from beyond the arc.
On the season Arizona is enjoying a sizable scoring margin (+10.9) as one of the better offensive and defensive teams in the Pac-12. The Wildcats rank second in the Pac-12 in points (73.4 pg), while shooting just under 45 percent from the floor. On the other end the Wildcats let up just 62.5 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting. Mark Lyons (15.3 ppg, 3.2 apg) is the main scoring threat for the Wildcats, also managing to lead the way in assists. Nick Johnson (11.8 ppg, 3.1 apg) runs in the backcourt with Lyons providing solid numbers in scoring and distributing. In the frontcourt, Solomon Hill (13.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is a versatile athlete with a ton of length at 6-foot-7.