Some of the Pac-10 has already played three games, including UCLA, which has a good shot at being 3-1 after the weekend. For WSU to match that, the Cougars will have to sweep one of the toughest road trips in the Pac-10. How can the get the first one? Read on.
• Solomon Hill has hit 2 of 11 3-point shots this season. The 6-foot-6 freshman from Los Angeles isn’t, then, much of an outside threat. Which means the Cougars are probably going to give him the opportunity. With a team that is athletic as Arizona, with four guys averaging more than nine points a game, every defense has to make decisions. Tonight, WSU will probably make the decision to leave him relatively unguarded outside 15 feet. That allows the player guarding Hill, be in man or zone, the opportunity to help on either Nic Wise, Derrick Williams, Jamelle Horne or Kyle Fogg. … Fogg is the player to watch tonight. The 6-3 sophomore guard is the Cats’ leading scorer in Pac-10 play, averaging 16.5 points and hitting 57 percent of his shots. … Arizona’s motion offense is based on off-ball screens, mainly screening the screener. This puts pressure on the defense to talk, help and not lose the offensive player coming off the second screen. It was an emphasis in practice this week. … Don’t be surprised if you see WSU playing zone again tonight. … Offensively, everyone knows the problems Arizona has had this season defending wings that can score. The most egregious example of this, of course, came 11 days ago when BYU’s Jimmer Fredette went off for a McKale-record 49, hitting 16 of 23 shots, including 9 of 13 3-pointers. Tonight we’ll see if the Cats learned anything since then as it relates to Klay Thompson. If Thompson hits 9 of 13 3-pointers tonight, WSU wins. … We’ll see if the Wildcats can defend the pick-and-pop tonight. Expect the Cougars to set a lot of ball screens and float to the line, like they did vs. Portland State. … The matchup of DeAngelo Casto and Williams will be fun to watch, as they are similar in size and athletic ability. Casto is more polished defensively, Williams offensively. … The two rosters are eerily similar, with UA having one senior (Wise), one junior (Horne) and a bunch of sophomores and freshmen. … The Wildcats’ 7-0 sophomore center Alex Jacobson, who missed the first two conference games with back spasms, wasn’t expected to play tonight. However, he’s on the court going through warm-ups. … Finally, the real key tonight: composure. The past two years I’ve watched experienced WSU teams melt here under Arizona’s pressure, magnified by the surroundings. How will it affect this much younger bunch of Cougars?
• That’s it for now. We’ll be back with our usual posts. Until then …