Washington St. Cougars vs. Arizona Wildcats Pick & Prediction JANUARY 13th 2024

Caleb Love emerged as No. 8 Arizona’s dominant scorer heading into Saturday’s game at Washington State in Pullman, Wash., but the Wildcats are all about balance.

Coach Tommy Lloyd’s four other starters also average double-digit points.

“We want to play balanced basketball,” Lloyd said.

Love scored at least 20 points in six of the past eight games, pushing his season average to 17.7. The transfer guard from North Carolina earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors after the Wildcats’ home sweep of Colorado and Utah last week, when he scored 39 points with nine rebounds and six assists, shooting 16 of 27 from the field, including multiple highlight dunks.

“Caleb, as we know, can get hot,” Lloyd said. “I told him going into the last game, ‘Hey, I’ll take 15 points and great defense.’ He’s really grown in that and he’s a game changer.

“So, I’m happy for that, but the balance is something we strive for. We don’t really tilt our offense in one direction for any one player. We want to make great decisions to play great team basketball.”

As for team basketball, Arizona (12-3, 3-1 Pac-12) enters the conference matchup as the only team in the country ranked in the top 10 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com.

Washington State (11-5, 2-3) is coming off Wednesday night’s 72-64 victory at Southern California, its first win at USC since 2015. Isaac Jones, who averages a team-high 14.8 points, came off the bench for the first time this season to score 26 points, pull down 11 rebounds and draw 10 fouls.

“He had been struggling at home last week and a little sick … and I think he’s been a little frustrated,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said of the fifth-year forward.

“Bringing him off the bench, he displayed a little more confidence. I think it just simplified things. Sometimes the best teacher is the bench, and he did well.”

Washington State was able to slow down the game against USC and hold the Trojans to 37.9 percent shooting. The Cougars will hope for a similar formula against Arizona, which averages a national-best 926 points per game and is always looking to run.

“We were fortunate just to keep them out of transition because they can really fly it up and get transition 3s,” Smith said of USC. “We did a fairly good job there, really good job.”

The Wildcats’ four other starters in double-figure scoring are Oumar Ballo (12.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg), Pelle Larsson (12.5), Keshad Johnson (12.3) and Kylan Boswell (11.1).

Arizona has been off since Saturday, catching a breather after a challenging nonconference schedule preceding two weeks of Pac-12 play

“We do need a little rest,” Lloyd said after Saturday’s win over Utah. “We’ve been on a gauntlet and we have not had a break.”

The Cougars’ second-leading scorer is Myles Rice (14.4), followed by Andrej Jakimovski (10.4).

Arizona has won 10 consecutive games in Pullman, dating to the 2010-11 season. The Wildcats have won 17 of the past 19 meetings overall against Washington State.

–Field Level Media

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