Cougs seek fourth all-time sweep of Arizona schools

WSU beat ASU, UA last season for first sweep since 2008-09



Freshman Guard Noah Williams , Sophomore Forward CJ Elleby, Senior Forward Jeff Pollard, Senior Guard Jervae Robinson, and Junior Guard Isaac Bonton all gather together before a shooting foul on Wednesday at Beasley Coliseum.

The Cougars’ men’s basketball team will face the University of Arizona Wildcats for its first of two meetings this season. The game will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday at Beasley Coliseum.

WSU (13-9, 4-5) comes off another clutch victory this year with a nail-biting 67-65 win over the Arizona State University Sun Devils on Wednesday. Sophomore CJ Elleby made the game-winning 3-pointer with four seconds left on the clock to send the Sun Devils home with a loss.

This victory ties the Cougars’ Pac-12 conference win total from last season at four wins. This game against Arizona (14-6, 4-3) is one of nine left over conference games for the Cougars to potentially improve their conference record further.

“I think every hurdle, everything we try to build helps,” head coach Kyle Smith said in his post-game press conference on Wednesday. “We’ve played real well in stretches.”

Arizona comes off a 75-72 win against the University of Washington Huskies on Thursday. The Wildcats lost a 22-point lead to Arizona State last Saturday and lost 66-65. The team was ranked No. 22 in the nation before this upset. However, the Wildcats rank 11th in the NCAA Division I net rankings, the highest of any Pac-12 team.

Prior to the game against UW, Arizona ranked in the top 25 in shooting from the field and from three with 47.8 percent and 37.8 percent, respectively. The team is eighth in the nation for its assist to turnover ratio at 1.4.

Arizona’s leading scorer is freshman forward Zeke Nnaji who averaged 16.9 points a game entering last night’s game. Nnaji and Arizona’s second leading scorer freshman guard Nico Mannion’s averages combine for 31 points per game. Elleby and Bonton’s scoring averages combine for 33.3 points per game.

Junior forward Marvin Cannon is predicted to return and play limited minutes against Arizona, but is more likely to play when WSU hosts the University of Washington on Feb. 9, Smith said.

“If he could get some minutes Saturday where he could get some of the rust off and get his conditioning back, that’d be great,” Smith said.

Freshman guard Ryan Rapp said the most important element of the team is to be confident in each other. He believes that the Cougars’ road struggles this year have not “broken” the team as opposed to last year’s squad.

“We’re fine; we’re still here,” Rapp said. “We’re just gelling real well together as a team off the court.”

WSU will tip-off against Arizona at 5 p.m. PST on Saturday at Beasley Coliseum. The game will air on the Pac-12 Networks.