Cougs upset No. 5 Arizona, no loss can spoil that

WSU men’s basketball took biggest win in decades



WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye dunks the ball during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Detroit Mercy, Nov. 25.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

Fans of the Felinae subfamily of cats saw the upset coming, as “Puma concolor” outweighs “Felis silvestris” by a factor of 10. Zoologically speaking, Arizona never stood a chance in this duel.

WSU men’s basketball (7-10, 2-4 Pac-12) saw both Arizona teams in their home stadiums this last week.

Arizona State (13-3, 3-1 Pac-12) was predicted to be the easier game, seeing as Arizona (14-2, 3-2 Pac-12) was ranked fifth in the nation and Arizona State is unranked. However, that is not to say Arizona State is a weak team. They had only three losses going into their game against the Cougs and 11 wins. Compared to most teams they are having a fantastic season, and unfortunately for the Cougs, that good season continued against them.

I do not know the Latin name for a Sun Devil, so that bit is on hiatus. The final score was 77-71. Once again the Cougs performed well for almost all of the game, tying the Sun Devils in second-half points and leading them in total rebounds by three and offensive rebounds by seven. At the end of the first half, the Cougs were down by 6, and at the end, they were also down by 6.

Still, keeping it close against good opponents is what you do when you are getting to be one of those good teams. At this point, it is obvious that this team has high potential. These are not flukes, they really are keeping it close against very good opponents. That kind of play bears fruit eventually, and it did not take long for that to happen.

This next part is going to sound like hyperbole.

The game against the AP Poll’s No. 5 team Arizona was one of the greatest regular season wins in the history of the program as it was the first road win versus a top-five team in program history, and probably the single best in my lifetime. At the final buzzer, the Cougs led 74-61. The Cougs had their typical woes in this game, with a scoreless stretch in the middle of the second half, but that did not matter. Every other aspect of the game was clicking.

On the offensive side, the Cougs shot a relatively low 39% from the field but made up for it by making 42% of their 3-pointers. Mouhamed Gueye had 24 points for a season-high and was only one point short of his career-best. Behind him were three other Cougars in double-digits, those being Jabe Mullins, Justin Powell and DJ Rodman.

With only eight players in the game, the Cougs needed everyone to perform, and they got it. While they were out-rebounded by three and had one more turnover than Arizona, they led in every other counting stat.

For much of the game, the Cougs were up double digits or close to it, with the only real scary moment coming from that scoreless stretch that resulted in the lead getting down to only six.

Luckily for WSU, the effort to get the lead that small was herculean enough for the Wildcats that it was easy for the Cougars to shut it down and push the lead back up past 10.

The defensive side is probably even more impressive. The Cougs held a top-10 offense in the nation to 31% from the field and 16% from three. This wasn’t just good shots not going down either, the Cats truly struggled to get good looks against a stifling defense. The switchability lauded in the pre-season showed itself, and Arizona could not manage to get anything going.

Looking forward and following the mammalian line of logic from earlier, the Cougs will now look for one of the single biggest upsets of all time against the much larger and much more extinct “Ursus arctos californicus”. Following a more basketball-based line of thinking, the Golden Bears are the worst team in the Pac-12 and were the last winless team in the country. This one is absolutely a must-win, and it should not be hard to do so.

This Carnivoran duel will be played out at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Beasley Coliseum. Fans can watch on the Pac-12 Network.