The Arizona Wildcats got back to their winning ways in resounding fashion on Thursday, taking down the Washington Huskies 99-67 thanks to an enormous second half.
Next up are the Washington State Cougars, who are coming off an 84-73 loss at ASU. WSU will enter McKale with a 1-3 conference record, that one win being an 85-78 victory over UCLA.
The Cougs are 9-7 overall this year, with their best non-conference win arguably coming against New Mexico in the 7th place game at the Diamondhead Classic over Christmas. They also took Washington to overtime last week in Pullman.
Who to Watch:
Stopping Washington State essentially comes down to stopping two guys. Josh Hawkinson is putting up ridiculous numbers this year, averaging 17.1 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. He's coming off a 15 and 12 performance in Tempe against the Sun Devils. He has had a double-double in 11 straight games, and has 13 such games this year.
The other guy to watch out for will be Ike Iroegbu, a 6-2 guard. Iroegbu is the only other WSU player averaging double figures in scoring, contributing 14.3 per contest. He also leads the team in assists, dishing out just over four a game. He's also the biggest threat from beyond the arc for this team, shooting 54.8% (23-42) from downtown.
What to Watch:
To stop these two guys, Arizona will rely on Ryan Anderson and Kadeem Allen on defense. Anderson will be tasked with Hawkinson, while Allen will likely be the guy guarding Iroegbu. Anderson could also get some help from Kaleb Tarczewski, as Washington State does not have consistent production from the center position.
Washington State seems to be at a severe disadvantage with the matchups in this game, and it feels like Arizona will look to make a statement on defense before it goes to the Bay Area next week.
Sean Miller is possibly expecting Ernie Kent to come up with something interesting to balance out these bad matchups for the Cougars.
"He's an innovative offensive, fast-break coach," Miller said of Kent after Thursday's win against Washington. "He did an amazing job at Oregon, and he's going to do a really good job at Washington State. He has made our conference better, and we're going to be in for a battle on Saturday night."
WSU is 118th in adjusted tempo on KenPom, and is also 178th in defensive efficiency.
If Arizona is missing shots early, the Cougars might be able to get out and run a little bit, and give the Wildcats a game in the opening minutes, possibly even the entire first half. But this does not feel like a game that will be very close, especially coming off the 30-point win on Thursday.
The Wildcats and Cougars are scheduled to tip off at 7:30 PM MST on Pac-12 Networks.