While Arizona was getting a much-needed few days off earlier in the week, many of the top-ranked teams in college basketball found themselves losing on the road to unranked opponents. Tommy Lloyd said those kinds of results were so common in early January they shouldn’t be considered upsets.
On Saturday, the Wildcats joined the list of Top 10 teams to get beat by an unranked foe on the road this week.
Caleb Love’s 3-point attempt with about six seconds left rimmed out as 8th-ranked Arizona lost 73-70 at Washington State, its first loss in Pullman since 2010. It was also the first time the Wildcats (12-4, 3-2 Pac-12) have dropped consecutive road games since February 2021.
Love had 28 points, 20 in the second half, and made five 3s but he was 10 of 25 from the field and missed eight triples. Arizona shot a season-low 34.7 percent, were 7 of 24 from 3 and missed eight of 21 free throws.
Most glaring: the UA was 11 of 31 on dunks and layups. It outrebounded Washington State (12-5, 3-3) by 11 yet somehow only managed 12 second-chance points off 22 offensive boards.
Oumar Ballo had 11 points and 14 rebounds but he was 4 of 11 from the field. Pelle Larsson missed six of 10 shots, Keshad Johnson was 3 of 8 and Kylan Boswell missed all five of his shots as well as both free throws, going scoreless for the first time in almost a year.
WSU shot 46.4 percent but made its final six shots, this after missing seven in a row when Arizona was able to take a 59-57 lead with 4:20 left. The UA led for less than three minutes all game and trailed by as many as 11 early in the second half.
Down 34-30 at the half, Arizona got outscored 14-5 in the first 3-plus minutes to fall behind 56-45 with 15:57 left. The Wildcats slowly chipped away, making it a one-point game with 10:51 left, but then made numerous chances to tie or take the lead over the next five minutes only to come up short.
Their first lead since 7-6 game on a Love 3 with 5:03 to go, but then the Cougars wouldn’t miss another shot and held the edge the rest of the way.
A banked-in 3 by Johnson got Arizona within 71-70 with 16 seconds left, but after Myles Rice made two free throws with 11 seconds to go the Wildcats didn’t have a timeout and Love got to a spot on the right elbow above the arc but it clanged out.
Arizona had its worst offensive half of the season to open Saturday’s game, shooting 33.3 percent and making 2 of 11 3s in the first 20 minutes. The Wildcats missed 11 shots in a row and 17 of 19 at one point, allowing WSU to build a 28-21 lead with 5:11 left, but they held the Cougars without a field goal over the final 4:17 to trail by only four at the break.
The Wildcats became the seventh team ranked in the top 10 of the latest Associated Press poll to lose this week on the road to an unranked opponent. No. 2 Houston, which had yet to lose this season, lost a second straight game on Saturday when it fell 68-67 at TCU after falling at Iowa State on Tuesday.
The UA returns home for its next two games, hosting USC on Wednesday and UCLA next Saturday.