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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

No 4. Arizona MBB set to host Washington State and Washington

The+Wildcats+watch+the+action+against+the+basketball+team+and+Southern+University+in+McKale+Center+on+Monday%2C+Nov.+13.+The+Wildcats+beat+the+Jaguars+97-59.
Giacomo Cain
The Wildcats watch the action against the basketball team and Southern University in McKale Center on Monday, Nov. 13. The Wildcats beat the Jaguars 97-59.

The No. 4 Arizona men’s basketball team is set to host No. 21 Washington State University on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. and the University of Washington on Saturday, Feb. 24, at noon. The Wildcats (20-5, 11-3 Pac-12) are coming off a 45-point victory against ASU, their largest in program history against the Sun Devils. Currently riding a six-game winning streak, Arizona will look to maintain its undefeated home record, which stands at 13-0.

History vs. Washington State

This Thursday marks the 88th meeting between the two programs, with the Wildcats leading the series 68-19. In their most recent meeting on Jan.13, Arizona fell to the Cougars, 73-70, its lowest-scoring game of the season. Arizona also holds a record of 1-2 over their last three matchups. Thursday’s game between Washington State and Arizona will only be the second time in history that both teams will be ranked during its matchup. The first time this happened was on Feb. 1, 2007, when No. 18 Washington State defeated No. 20 Arizona 72-66, completing a season sweep of the Wildcats.

Washington State players to watch

Kyle Smith, now in his fifth season as the head coach for Washington State, commands a record of 89-67. Winners of seven straight, including 10 of its last 11, the Cougars (20-6, 11-4 in Pac-12) have established themselves as a top-two team in the Pac-12 and enter 0.5 games behind the Wildcats for first place in the conference. Its recent success has earned them a spot in the AP rankings for the first time in over a decade since 2008.

Myles Rice:

Rice, a redshirt freshman, leads the team in scoring and assists, averaging 15.9 points and 3.7 assists per game. Since the start of January, Rice has been on a tear, averaging 17.5 points and 4.7 assists per game. Myles Rice has made history by becoming the first freshman to win the weekly award four times in a row. In addition to this, he has also earned seven Freshman of the Week awards this season, tying him with Evan Mobley for the most in the award’s history.

Isaac Jones:

The Cougars have greatly benefited from the contribution of the senior transfer from the University of Idaho, who has been a dominant force, averaging 15.7 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds per game. Jones has consistently performed for the Cougars, scoring double figures in all but two games and achieving seven double-doubles.

Jaylen Wells:

After a sluggish start to the season, the junior averaged 7.2 points and four rebounds per game through the first two months of the season. Wells has found his rhythm since the start of January, averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game. Wells has scored in double figures in every game since the calendar flip in 2024.

History vs. Washington

Saturday marks the 90th meeting between the two programs. Arizona holds a 58-31 lead in the series and a home record of 33-12. Over the last 10 meetings, the Wildcats are 8-2, winners of seven straight. The last time Washington tasted victory over Arizona was nearly four years ago, on March 7, 2020, when the Huskies fended off a late rally to beat the Wildcats 69-63 in Tucson. While this marks their first meeting this season, bad blood simmers between the two teams. With former Arizona football head coach Jedd Fisch’s controversial departure for Washington after leading the Wildcats to a stellar 10-3 record and an Alamo Bowl win in 2023 angered and upset Arizona fans, adding a layer of spice to the rivalry.

Washington players to watch

Mike Hopkins, now in his seventh season as the head coach for Washington, commands a record of 115-103. Hopkins has led the Huskies to one Pac-12 Regular Season Title and one trip to the NCAA Tournament in the 2018-19 season. The Huskies’ 2023-24 season has been somewhat underwhelming, with a record of (14-12, 6-9 Pac-12). Over its last six games, the Huskies are 3-3, with all three losses coming by 10 points. Washington’s most notable win this season came on Dec 9, 2023, when the Huskies stunned former No. 7 Gonzaga University 78-73.

Keion Brooks Jr.:

Brooks leads the Huskies in scoring and rebounding by a wide margin. The senior is one of the top scorers in the nation, averaging 21.2 points (12th in the country) and 6.8 rebounds per game. Brooks has reached double figures in all but one game this season and has scored 25 or more points six times. Additionally, he is shooting a career-best 50.3% from the field and 38% from behind the arc.

Sahvir Wheeler:

The senior guard is averaging 15.3 points and a team-high 5.9 assists per game. Wheeler has scored double figures in all but three games this season and has recorded three double-doubles. His passing prowess ranks among the nation’s best, sitting at 21st in the country with 5.9 assists per game. Additionally, he’s dished out seven or more assists a staggering 10 times this season, including a season-high 14 in December.

Moses Wood:

The senior is averaging 11.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Surprisingly, Woods has performed better on the road than at home, averaging 13.2 points and 4.8 rebounds compared to only 10.7 points and 4.6 rebounds at home. Over Washington’s last 10 games, Wood has reached double figures in all but one game.

Wildcats to watch

The Wildcats’ robust offense is one of the strongest in college basketball, with an average of 90.7 points per game, which ranks best in the country. With a scorching offensive display, Arizona has scored 309 points in their last three conference games, a mark only surpassed twice since 1980-81. According to Kenpom, Arizona’s offense ranks sixth in adjusted offensive efficiency, while its defense ranks 12th, placing them fourth overall.

Caleb Love:

The former University of North Carolina Tar Heel has been the offensive engine for Arizona. Love is averaging a team-high 18.8 points and five rebounds per game, both of which are career highs. After scoring a career-high 36 points against the University of Oregon on Jan. 27, Love has recorded five straight games under 20-point scoring performances. Love’s numbers in February still look impressive, as he is averaging 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

Kylan Boswell:

Boswell averages 10 points and a team-high 3.8 assists per game. The sophomore guard got off to a hot start to the season but was ice-cold throughout December and January. Plagued by shooting struggles, Boswell averaged 8.1 points per game and shot below 32% from the field. However, Boswell is averaging 11 points per game in February and 43.5% from the field. Additionally, Boswell has recorded three straight double-digit scoring performances for the first time since late November.

Jaden Bradley:

Through the first three months of the season, Bradley averaged 4.8 points and 1.9 assists per game. However, Bradley has completely flipped the script in the month of February, averaging 11 points and 2.6 assists per game. Over the last two games, the sophomore has averaged 17.5 points per game. During Arizona’s blowout win over ASU, Bradley scored a career-high 21 points and recorded a season-high five assists.


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