PULLMAN – Washington State’s strong win-loss record at Beasley Coliseum in January has been part of a larger trend in the Pac-12 since conference play opened last month.
Home teams were 34-14 entering Saturday’s slate of games, and both Oregon and Oregon State squandered chances to manufacture road sweeps – something that still hadn’t happened for anyone in the Pac-12 nearly halfway through conference play.
The same opportunity fell to Arizona, visiting Washington State on Saturday night nearly 48 hours after beating Washington in Seattle.
The Wildcats were solid and had plenty of help from the Cougars in a 66-49 Arizona victory that gave Sean Miller’s team the first road sweep of this Pac-12 season and also signaled the end of an impressive four-game home streak for WSU.
An Arizona team that hasn’t been as steady or consistent as many of its previous editions lost its national ranking after losing at Arizona State last Saturday. The Wildcats still displayed the strength, size and athleticism befitting a team that posted the country’s sixth-rated recruiting class in 2019.
“Hat tip to them, I think they guarded us really well,” WSU head coach Kyle Smith said. “Their switching bothered us, their length. We were up 15-8 and we guarded well. … When they kind of tightened up the D and we didn’t see the ball go in the basket, I think we hung our heads a little bit. And that can happen. It took a little zip out of us.”
By a few measures, it was the worst offensive performance by a WSU team in at least three years. Saturday’s scoring total was the lowest by a WSU team since February 2017, when the Cougars scored 49 points at Colorado.
CJ Elleby, battling a flu virus that seemed to worsen after Wednesday’s game, scored just seven points on 2-of-12 shooting. Isaac Bonton led the Cougars with 15 points on 7-of-16 shooting and 1-of-5 from three-point range, but nobody else in a crimson uniform finished in double figures.
As a team, WSU matched its lowest three-point total of the season with just three makes, and the Cougars’ three-point percentage (16.6) was their worst of the year.
Arizona’s freshman duo of Nico Mannion and Zeke Nnaji combined for 24 points, while Stone Gettings scored 19 of his own and finished with 12 rebounds after reaching a double-double in the first half.
“He’s one of those guys who’s kind of a mismatch, definitely,” WSU’s Jeff Pollard said of Gettings. “He’s got a big body, stretch five, can really shoot it. He’s a smart player. Even though he wasn’t one of their key guys, we were looking to shut down. He’s a good player and he found ways to attack the defense, and he just took advantage of what we were giving him.”
The Cougars led by as many as seven points in the first half, but the Wildcats hit back with an 18-4 run that spanned almost seven minutes. WSU had a scoreless stretch that lasted more than four minutes and when the drought ended, a five-point Cougars lead had turned into a seven-point edge for the Wildcats.
“We lost our patience on offense and we started taking tough shots, which led to their transition, easy buckets,” Pollard said. “We shot ourselves in the foot and kind of fed their fire.”
For WSU, junior guard Marvin Cannon made his first appearance since Dec. 21 after tearing a meniscus, scoring three points and hauling down five rebounds in nearly 10 minutes. The Cougars are also anticipating that transfer forward Tony Miller will return by the time they host Washington next Sunday.
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