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Preview: Red-hot Washington State Cougars visit Arizona

Time: 8:30 p.m.


A great deal of firepower was lost when wing Klay Thompson decided to leave the Washington State Cougars for the NBA after a forceful junior season.

But if the last two games tell us anything, it's that the Cougars just might have found Thompson's replacement. Guard Faisal Aden came off the bench to score 33 points against the Stanford Cardinal and 24 against the California Golden Bears last weekend -- both were wins and both of Aden's explosive performances came off the bench.

The Spokesman-Review writes that WSU head coach Ken Bone doesn't know whether that's earned a starting spot against the Arizona Wildcats in their 8:30 p.m. bout this evening. But does it really matter, either way?

Sean Miller is probably jealous of Bone's options after scouting last weekend's Wazzou games.

WSU stands right behind Arizona in the Pac-12 rankings, but thanks to the rise of Aden and at 3-4, are on an upswing to the Wildcats' downswing.

After losing their own leading scorer from last seasont in Derrick Williams, the Wildcats (13-7, 4-3 Pac-12) have only 21 individual performances of scoring more than 15 points in a game. Only six times has an Arizona player scored in the 20s, and no player averages more than Solomon Hill's 11.9 points per game.

Meanwhile, the Cougars (11-8, 3-4 Pac-12) are led by center Brock Motum's 15.9 points per game and Aden's 15.1. The duo has each eclipsed the 20-point mark four times this season.

In Pac-12 Conference play, Motum's 17.1 per game averages and Aden's 14.7 average rank second and ninth in the league, respectively. Arizona's best scorer in league games is Jesse Perry's 12.7, which ranks 18th.

Simply put, the Cougars have the better offensive weapons, and it'll be up to Arizona to find a way to stop them. The Wildcats are the best scoring defense in the Pac-12 while the Cougars defense leaves little expectations, ranking 11th in the league.

Against Motum's size, the Wildcats will have its work cut out for them. The 6-foot-10, 230 pound Australian is the stereotypical Euro-center. He averages a team-leading 6.3 rebounds, but shoots above 56 percent from the field. He can also stretch the defense and is shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range.

Perry should be able to contain him to some degree, at least until Motum's size wins out.

Likewise at the 2-guard spot, Kyle Fogg should be able to make Aden work for his buckets. Aden shot a combined 19-for-29 against Cal and Stanford. Limiting his efficiency should be the focus if Arizona hopes to temper his output.

The X-factor

Call point guard Reggie Moore the X-factor for the Cougars. After all his career has been a bumpy one.

The junior's highest scoring season was his freshman year. Then, he averaged 12.7 points and looked to have a bright future for WSU. But he's failed to make any significant improvements.

Maybe it's good enough that he's still on the team. After being cited for pot possession a year ago, Moore quietly is posting an impressive season with 8.9 points per game and a personal best 5.5 assists per game.

Keep an eye on how freshman Josiah Turner, who Miller said might become the Wildcats' go-to guy sooner rather than later, matches up with the physical veteran.