Arizona Wildcats vs. Washington Huskies Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 24th 2024

No. 4 Arizona, coming off its first home loss of the season, hosts Washington on Saturday in Tucson and the Wildcats are trying to avoid a first under head coach Tommy Lloyd.

The Wildcats (20-6, 11-4 Pac-12) have never lost back-to-back games in three seasons under Lloyd. They fell 77-74 in McKale Center to Washington State on Thursday night, surrendering the Pac-12 lead to the Cougars in the process.

“Heads up. Our heads are up,” Lloyd said after the game. “Everything we want for this season is still out in front of us. We’ve got to come out and play a really talented team on Saturday early. So, let’s go. Our guys need to respond. We’re a high-character group so I expect they will.”

Washington (15-12, 7-9) survived a strange game on Thursday night at Arizona State. The Huskies were up by 25 points early in the second half but were forced into overtime, where they eked out an 84-82 victory.

“We just want to turn the page,” said Washington’s Keion Brooks Jr., looking ahead to playing the Wildcats. “They’re a really good team. But we think we have a really good team, too.”

This will be the only meeting of the regular season between these schools.

Brooks is the guy who makes the Huskies go, averaging a Pac-12-high 21.2 points per game to go with 6.9 rebounds per game. He is shooting 49.7 percent from the field, including 37.0 percent (40 of 108) from 3-point range.

Sahvir Wheeler contributes 15.0 points and leads the conference with 5.9 assists per game.

Caleb Love stirs the drink for the Wildcats, averaging 19.1 points. He scored 27 against Washington State but failed twice in the final seconds, once getting his shot blocked near the rim and then slipping and being called for traveling with 4.0 seconds left.

Arizona’s Oumar Ballo has posted a double-double in six consecutive games and is nearly averaging one for the season – 13.2 points, 9.9 rebounds.

“He’s been playing with really good energy,” Lloyd said. “I’m proud of him the way he’s been playing, and he’s got to continue because he’s a great player.”

Washington State, which swept the season series against Arizona, is a matchup problem for the Wildcats in ways that the Huskies might not be. The Cougars are more defensive-minded than Washington and their size and length has been able to neutralize Arizona’s usual advantages in rebounding and points in the paint, while also slowing down a team that loves to run.

Washington doesn’t have as much overall size and also likes to play fast, which could play into Arizona’s hands. The Wildcats rank third nationally in rebounding margin at plus-10.9 per game, which fuels their transition game.

The Huskies have 7-foot-1 Braxton Meah to match up with Ballo and others down low, but they will be without center Franck Kepnang, who won’t play again this season due to lingering knee problems, coach Mike Hopkins said this week.

Washington was 7-3, including a win over Gonzaga, when Kepnang played this season.

–Field Level Media

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