WSU welcomes No. 4 Arizona to Beasley

Cougs host top four team for the first time since Dec. 2008



WSU guard Tyrell Roberts (2) shoots a 3-pointer during the second half against Utah, Wednesday, Jan. 26, in Beasley Coliseum.

AARIK LONG, Evergreen reporter

The Cougar men’s basketball team (14-7, 7-3) is on their hottest streak since 2007 with five straight wins coming in conference play. Now, they get ready for their biggest test; No. 4 Arizona (20-2, 10-1) visits Pullman tonight in Beasley Coliseum.

WSU’s last time hosting a team in the top-four came during the beginning of the 2008-09 season when No. 4 Gonzaga made the trip down from Spokane. The Bulldogs would earn a 74-52 win on that day. 

The Cougars’ last away win against Arizona came in Feb. 2019. WSU’s last home win against Arizona came in Feb. 2010, when the Pac-12 was still just the Pac-10. 

If you are looking for a Cougar win over a top-four team, you have to go way back. On Feb. 16, 1980, almost 20 years before many current Cougars were born, WSU upset No. 4 Oregon State 69-51 in the less than seven-year-old Beasley Coliseum.

All this adds up to a potentially historic game this evening. After a historic weekend in the Bay Area, this WSU team seems poised to potentially capitalize on the momentum.

“Pretty thrilled about getting a chance to play a team that looks like they have a chance to win it all,” WSU head coach Kyle Smith said about the matchup.

Arizona comes into the game as a heavy favorite, with ESPN’s Basketball Power Index giving the Wildcats a 72.7% chance of winning the game.

“They’re pretty complete,” Smith said. “I gotta be honest. They’re locked into the eight guys they’re gonna play. They have three really good front court guys. They can play big. They can play smaller. They pressure defensively and they’re pretty sound on what they try to do offensively.”

The Wildcats play at a high tempo, which might provide the Cougs with a bit of an issue. Arizona ranks in the top 25 teams in the nation when it comes to field goals attempted in each game. It will be a clash of tempos and the Cougar defense will be put to the test.

WSU guard Noah Williams shoots a free throw during the first half against Colorado, Jan. 30, in Beasley Coliseum.

Arizona enters the game on a four-game winning streak, the second longest in the Pac-12. The streak includes wins over then No. 3 UCLA and No. 19 USC.

The most recent win for the Wildcats came against in-state foe Arizona State on Monday, with Arizona running away with a dominant 91-79 win.

“They watch TV,” Smith said of his team. “They’ve heard enough about them. They’ll have to dig deep and be challenged and see what they can do.”

WSU will once again likely rely on their big men, specifically Efe Abogidi, who is coming off of a huge game against California, and Mouhamed Gueye, who is coming off of his third Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award this past weekend.

The Cougs could be welcoming a major piece back to the paint against the Wildcats, as well.

Smith said that Dishon Jackson’s return is about “50-50,” saying his vision is going to be one of the deciding factors. Jackson has been out for over a month after suffering an eye injury earlier in the season against Utah.

The team will also be without Jefferson Koulibaly, who missed the trip to the Bay Area as well.

WSU will be in a tough spot against a really good Arizona team, but the stars are aligning for a special night inside of Beasley either way, as the red-hot Cougs welcome one of the nation’s best teams to Pullman. The atmosphere inside of the arena is likely to be the best of the season.

Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. tonight. If you can make it, be inside of Beasley cheering the team on. If you can not, the game will be broadcast live on FS1.