Cougs to play a pair of rematches in Beasley

Men’s basketball will host Arizona, 8 p.m. Thursday, Arizona State, 5 p.m. Saturday



WSU guard Kymany Houinsou dunks the ball during an NCAA basketball game against California, Jan. 11.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball (9-12, 4-6 Pac-12) got swept in the two games they played in the Rockies. After losing by a lot to Utah Thursday, the Cougs then lost on a game-winning 3-pointer in Boulder. Things are not getting easier as the Cougs are now home to face No. 6 Arizona (17-3, 6-3 Pac-12) and Arizona State (15-5, 6-3 Pac-12).

Looking first at Arizona, the miraculous win earlier in the season has remained as an outlier on the Arizona schedule. They are now 17-3, tied for the best season record in the Pac-12. They are coming off a close win against No. 8 UCLA, who has the best conference record in the Pac-12. All signs point to this being an extremely hard one for the Cougs. However, that is what it looked like last time too, and the Cougs managed to make it happen.

If they pull this one off against Arizona a second time, it will immediately become a legendary pair of performances by the Cougs and an infamous pair of losses for the Wildcats.

Last game against Arizona, Mouhamed Gueye had 24 points for a season-high and was only 1 point short of his career-best. He will need to show out again for the Cougs to be able to pull this one off.

“[Gueye] is the rising tide, [he] brings all the ships. We need him to be the impactful player offensively that he can be and has been,” Smith said in Tuesday’s press conference.

Unfortunately, Gueye is also dealing with an injury right now. He has been dealing with a lingering hamstring issue that he has been playing through

“I think he’ll be fine,” Smith said post-game Sunday. “I saw him yesterday. He didn’t mention it. The trainer says he’s good.”

Hopefully, he is actually good, as he has a big job to do.

Last time against the Cougs, Ąžuolas Tubelis managed to put up 29 points on decent efficiency. Everyone else on the team shot poorly, so his 29 did not matter, but a win Thursday will likely only come if Tubelis is slowed. Most days Arizona wins if he scores like that. The Cougs managed to stop all the other scorers before, and if they can do it again they will have a shot.

After winning that one by a blowout, the Cougs will quickly have to prepare for another hard matchup against Arizona State.

The last time the Cougs faced the Sun Devils, they lost 77-71. This one was pretty close in terms of the level of play, as the Cougs tied the Sun Devils in second-half points and led them in a few counting stats. Early offensive struggles led to the loss and it is not impossible to see how the Cougs could make this one happen if they keep it close all game. 

TJ Bamba struggled last time and ultimately fouled out. Bamba just came back from injury against Colorado and looked as good as ever. Better scoring and defense from him this time could help the Cougs out a lot.

This will likely be the hardest homestand of the season. It will take a lot of things going perfectly for the Cougs to win one of these, and it will take something truly magnificent for them to sweep it. The biggest advantage the Cougs will have is the fans. Pack the stadium, this is where it counts. 

The Arizona game starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, followed by a 5 p.m. tip-off against Colorado Saturday. Fans can watch the first on FS1 and the second on ESPNU or the ESPN app.