Eastern Washington’s men’s basketball team will face Pac-12 power Arizona on Saturday in Tucson, Arizona, according to EWU coach Shantay Legans.
The defending Big Sky Conference champion Eagles were initially slated to open conference play at Northern Arizona this weekend, but both games involving the Lumberjacks in Flagstaff were postponed due to coronavirus concerns related to NAU, Legans said.
Legans’ wife, former EWU women’s basketball player Tatjana Sparavalo, noticed a string of recent cancellations and postponements for Arizona and suggested that her husband reach out.
He made the call on Tuesday, and Sean Miller’s tradition-rich Wildcats obliged on Wednesday.
“This kind of last-minute scheduling is going to happen now with all that’s going on,” said Legans, whose team is picked to repeat as Big Sky champion. “This is going to be a good game. Arizona always has some of the better players in the country.”
Tipoff against the Wildcats is set for noon at the McKale Center and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.
EWU didn’t play its scheduled season opener on Nov. 25 at No. 20 Oregon after the Eagles had multiple positive COVID-19 tests leading up to the game.
Washington State clipped shorthanded EWU 71-68 on Saturday in Pullman, a game in which the Eagles (0-1) competed with six players after five were sidelined due to virus protocols.
One player tested positive and four others missed the WSU game because of contact tracing. All five players, including starting point guard Ellis Magnuson, will return Saturday.
Arizona (1-0) had its Wednesday Pac-12 opener against Colorado postponed due to positive tests from the Buffaloes.
Arizona was reportedly set to play Northern Colorado on Saturday, but the Big Sky program was recently shut down due to COVID-19 protocol.
Arizona, picked fifth in the Pac-12 preseason poll, is set to face Big Sky foe Northern Arizona on Monday.
The Wildcats, whose one game was a 74-55 win over Grambling, lost three players to last month’s NBA draft. They returned another potential draft pick in junior guard James Akinjo, who averaged 13.4 points and 3.4 assists a season ago.
Arizona and EWU haven’t met since 2004, when the 14th-ranked Wildcats handled the Eagles 79-45 in Tucson, the only previous meeting between the programs.
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