(7) Arizona (-16.5, 142.5 o/u) at Washington State
Two Pac-12 teams coming off big wins will meet tonight as the No. 7 Arizona Wildcats (21-3, 9-2 Pac-12) take on the Washington State Cougars (11-13, 5-7 Pac-12) at Friel Court in Pullman (6:30 p.m. Eastern).
The Wildcats had been on a tear before last weekend, winning six straight conference games, including a 69-51 demolition of then-No.8 Utah. But the win streak came to an abrupt halt with an 81-78 loss to arch-rival Arizona State on Saturday.
“We just weren’t ready, to be honest,” said Wildcats guard TJ McConnell after the loss to ASU. “When we have a team that is not ready, we aren’t going to win against any team.”
The team got back in the win column on Friday with a convincing 86-62 on the road over the Washington Huskies. Freshman phenom Stanley Johnson had 20 points and eight rebounds for Arizona in the win.
Tonight, the Wildcats will face a Washington Cougars squad coming off a much needed win over Arizona State on Friday (74-71).
The Cougars had lost six of seven heading into Friday’s game, but senior guard Dexter Kernich-Drew – who was inserted into the starting lineup for the game – rewarded the coaching decision with a career-high 27 points (nearly 22 points higher than his season average of 5.3).
The win moved Washington State to 5-7 in conference play, just two games back of the three-way logjam for fourth-place.
That said, coach Ernie Kent knows that this year’s squad isn’t his most talented.
“We are who we are and we know that. We know we need to shoot it and everything else. We have our limitations in some areas. We need to shoot the ball and to do that you’ve got to play with a lot of confidence, a lot of courage”, Washington State coach Ernie Kent said, after his team laid an egg against Oregon (95-72) last weekend.
Confidence was in short supply for the Cougars the last time they faced the Wildcats. Washington State was embarrassed, 60-25, the team’s worst offensive output ever against Arizona.
Looking back a little further, the recent history isn’t any better for the Cougars; Washington State is 0-5 ATS in its last five against Arizona, and the Wildcats have taken seven of the last ten SU.
The 16.5-point spread looks a little dangerous. While the Cougars struggle to score at times, they are averaging over 75 PPG on the year (as are the Wildcats) and they usually put up points at home. Look for this game to hit the over (142.5).
(Photo credit: Beaverbasketball (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)