Arizona

Scouting Report: #6 Arizona Wildcats at Washington State Cougars | National

Probable starters

ARIZONA

G. Kerr Kriisa (6-3 Juniors)

G. Courtney Ramey (6-3 seniors)

F Cedric Henderson (6-6 seniors)

F. Azuolas Tubelis (6-11 Juniors)

C Oumar Ballo (7-0 Juniors)

WASHINGTON

G. Justin Powell (6-6 juniors)

G TJ Bamba (6-5 Juniors)

F Andrej Jakimovski (6-8 Juniors)

F DJ Rodman (6-6 seniors)

C Mouhamed Gueye (6-11 sophomore)

How they fit together

The last time: WSU ended Arizona’s 28-game winning streak on home court on Jan. 7 at the McKale Center, beating the Wildcats 74-61. Center Mouhamed Gueye led the Cougars with 24 points and 14 rebounds and hit a dagger-3 pointer to give WSU a 68-56 lead with 1:53 left.

Arizona shot just 31.7% overall and hit 4 of 25 3-pointers. Point guard Kerr Kriisa was 3 of 13 from the field and 2 of 11 of 3, while center Oumar Ballo was 4 of 11 from the field and 3 of 10 from the free throw line after suffering a bacterial infection that hospitalized him three times previously had this week.

Last time at Beasley Coliseum: Arizona kept WSU at just 34.2% shooting and beat the Cougars 46-31 in a 72-60 win on February 10, 2022 with a career-high 12 rebounds and five assists. Arizona shot 49.1% overall and hit 8 of 19 3-point shots.

Series history: The Wildcats are on a 10-game winning streak at Beasley Coliseum, where they have not lost since former coach Sean Miller’s first season with the Wildcats in 2009-10. However, the Cougars brought Miller’s last UA team to double overtime in 2020-21 as UA picked up an 86-82 win behind 24 points from Mathurin. UA leads the series 69-18 overall.

What’s new in the Cougars: Washington State couldn’t really maintain its win on Jan. 7 at the McKale Center, in part because top scorer TJ Bamba missed the next three games with a hand injury. The Cougars won the trip to the Bay Area, beating Stanford just 60-59 and then were swept in Utah and Colorado last weekend. But when Bamba returned against the Buffs and scored 18 points, WSU only lost 58-55. Former UA signer KJ Simpson hit a green 3 for the Buffs with 4.8 seconds left and Bamba’s last-second shot went wide.

Including their 12-for-28 performance from the 3-point range against Arizona, WSU averages 8.6 3-pointers made, the most in the Pac-12. The Cougars lead the conference in 3-point percentage at 36.1. In conference play, WSU takes the most 3s as a percentage of total field goals (42.5%) and hits them at a rate of 33.5%, the third best in the conference. Reserve wing Jabe Mullins, who hit 3 of 4 3s against Arizona on Jan. 7, leads the Pac-12 and ranks 26th nationally with 47.1% from distance.

The Cougars are 6-2 overall at Beasley this season, and their two losses came at three points.



University of Arizona vs. Washington State (copy)

Arizona guard Courtney Ramey (left) and Washington State guard TJ Bamba scramble for control of the ball during the second half of their game January 7 at the McKale Center.




He said so

“TJ Bamba is one of their best players. He came back for the Colorado game and brings a whole other dimension to their team with his ability to drive downhill and land on the edge, being a shot creator.

“They lost (in Colorado) but they led most of the game (19min to 18) and played really well. It was a slugfest on the street and it really went to the end.

“When (Bamba) was out they went through some changes but I have a feeling they will go back to how they were when we first played them. A lot has to do with how we react to it. They came in here and did a great job against us so we have to match their effort and focus.

“You don’t want to give up 12 3s or just score 61 points. You have to change that. You need to fix that.

“You are competent. They have guys who can play inside out. And what they do particularly well is their offensive rebound (on 32.9% of misses). So when they miss – they’re obviously good shooters – they’re good at following it up and getting their own mark.

“(Beasley) is a really difficult place to play. They’ve played hard against everyone up there this year, or beat them. They lost to UCLA by one. They beat USC. They lost to Utah in overtime. So it’s going to be a really tough game and we have to play 40 minutes.”

UA Associate Head Coach Jack Murphy scouting the Cougars

key figures

WASHINGTON STATE—Mouhamed Gueye

Did the Cougars’ ranging center cause a matchup problem for the Wildcats at McKale Center? Or did the Wildcats lack the effort and energy to adequately defend him – especially after Ballo returned from multiple hospitalizations? Maybe both were true. Either way, it will help the Wildcats if they can wear Gueye down by scoring at the other end of the floor.

ARIZONA—Courtney Ramey

Another problem for the Wildcats against the Cougars last month: Ramey had just two points in 1-on-5 shooting in 24 minutes. But the graduated transfer guard has since improved his shooting and defense, shooting 46.4% of 3 (13 of 28) in Arizona’s last three games.



Washington St Utah Basketball

Washington State coach Kyle Smith is hoping for a big, loud crowd at Beasley Coliseum for WSU-Arizona despite the late peak time in Pullman.




sidelines

Late night at the Palouse

Arizona forward Azuolas Tubelis, who visited Beasley Coliseum twice and played once in front of fans, said Wednesday that WSU’s arena was “strange.”

“Maybe it was too quiet,” Tubelis said. “I do not know.”

But it’s not all the cougars’ fault. Only about 87,000 people live in the counties that include Pullman and neighboring Moscow, Idaho. And an 8 p.m. Pacific Tippoff on a Thursday virtually guarantees that very few outlying WSU grads will make the trip, even if they still draw for the Cougars.

“I’ve lost hope that the Spokane people will come down,” said WSU coach Kyle Smith. “I have to flip some of these Coug graduates who have become Gonzaga fans.

“We have a building that is probably too big. But it’s a noisy building. It’s a good building. When the kids are there it will be great.”

Maybe they are there. The Cougs announced a crowd of 5,012 when they hosted UA on a Thursday night last season, and their ticket card indicated a similar crowd was possible this Thursday.

Smith found at least one encouraging data point.

“I think we’re going to have a pretty good audience,” Smith said at a Zoom conference Tuesday, with what appeared to be an Einstein Bros. trophy next to him. “The only reason I’m saying this is because I was getting a coffee this morning and the kid asked me, ‘Are we ready?’ So I took that positively.

“I thought he was there.”

More Bruins, please

UCLA leads Arizona in the Pac-12 race by two games even after the Wildcats defeated the Bruins last Saturday. But Tommy Lloyd said he wants to continue playing her in the future.

This also applies to next season when UCLA is not scheduled to perform at the McKale Center. The Pac-12 has kept the window open to change the 2023-24 schedule as the Bruins will not be there to perform their share of the 10-year schedule rotation after going to the Big Ten in 2024.

“I think it would be appropriate for both schools to do a home-and-house last time out,” Lloyd said. “It was a great rivalry. And as we move forward, we need to see where it is. Mick (Cronin, UCLA Coach) and I talked about it a bit. He and I will probably have some input, but I’m sure our bosses will have some input as well.

“It is a unique situation that you are leaving the conference. I don’t know if there are angry people and hurt feelings. But for me, I love playing them. I look forward to playing them, win or lose. As a competitor, it’s great to have these opportunities.”

McMotivation

UA signee KJ Lewis was removed from the McDonalds All-American lists this week, but he will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself against those who made it during his Wildcat career.

Four Pac-12-bound players were added to the McDonald’s roster, including Colorado signee Cody Williams, a former UA recruit target who was a teammate of UA freshman Dylan Anderson at Gilbert Perry High School.

Strangely, while Williams was on McDonald’s “East” roster alongside Oregon-native forward Kwame Evans of Montverde Academy in Florida, Oregon-native wing Mookie Cook and Stanford-native forward Andrej Stojakovic were called up to the west team.

Arizona had recruited Evans, Cook and non-signed forward Matas Buzelis (McDonalds East), who is going to the G League instead of college.

numbers game

3 — Games Arizona won despite shooting less than 40%. All three wildcats also lose if they shot below 40%.

2.54 – Courtney Ramey’s assist-to-turnover ratio in Pac-12 games, second in the conference behind only Utah’s Rollie Worster (3.33).

13 – Years since WSU swept Arizona during the regular season, namely 2009-10, Miller’s first season with the Wildcats.

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