Ken Bone is in his third year as the coach at WSU and he has his team overachieving to this point in the season. Following the loss of Klay Thompson to the Golden State Warriors and DeAngelo Casto to a professional contract in Turkey, Bone's team was selected as the 11th best team in the conference by the media during the preseason, but finds itself in a tie for seventh place with Pac-12 favorite UCLA.
Handling point guard duties for Washington State is 6-foot-1, 178-pound junior Reggie Moore, the Pac-12's leading assist man with 5.5 per game. In a team best 31.6 minutes per game, Moore is WSU's fourth best scorer at 8.9 points per game on 39.3 percent shooting from the field.
Moore has enjoyed playing against Arizona in the past, averaging 13 points in four career appearances. He's one of the conference's best facilitators and is boasting a better than 2:1 assist to turnover ratio, but Moore does have the ability to take matters into his own hands and exert himself offensively. Due to his veteran presence and leadership, he'll be a tough matchup for Josiah Turner on both ends of the floor.
Washington State has one of the best freshmen in the conference in DaVonte Lacy, the 6-foot-3, 206-pound shooting guard who hit the game-winning three-pointer against California on Saturday. For the season Lacy is the Cougars' third best scorer at 9.9 points per game and in seven Pac-12 games he's averaging 11 points per game, while shooting 46.9 percent from three-point range and 47.1 percent overall.
Lacy, who is playing with a chip on his shoulder in Pac-12 play for being under recruited by the 11 other schools in the conference, is really coming into his own with conference play in full swing. He'll likely draw Kyle Fogg from UA on the defensive end and how he fares against the senior will give us a very clear indicator of exactly where he's at 19 games into his collegiate career.
The Cougars have one of the best defenders in the conference in 6-foot-4, 179-pound senior Marcus Capers who, despite averaging 27.4 minutes per game, puts up just 5.4 points in that time. His playing time is due in large part to his toughness, intensity and energy and while he does have the ability to score, he's the ideal glue man for Washington State.
Even though he has started 18 of the team's 19 games, 6-foot-10, 230-pound senior Charlie Enquist averages just 17.7 minutes per game and in that time he puts up 5.1 points and 4.5 rebounds, which is good for second on the team. Against a small Arizona team, Enquist's role may increase substantially and he'll likely be asked to do more offensively than he normally would be.
WSU has another matchup problem in 6-foot-10, 245-pound Australian forward Brock Motum, who at 15.4 points per game is the team's leading scorer. In a conference with a glaring lack of big men, Motum is feasting on the inferior competition and is averaging 17.4 points per contest in Pac-12 play.
He's shooting a very efficient 58.9 percent while leading the team with 6.1 rebounds per game and may be the best big man in the Pac-12 this season. Jesse Perry is going to have his hands full defensively and needs to work hard when the Cougars have the ball to prevent Motum from catching the ball near the rim and converting easy looks.
It's possible that Washington State's most prolific scorer is its sixth man Faisal Aden, who exploded for 33 points against Stanford last Thursday in 29 minutes off the bench. There's no question that the 6-foot-4, 179-pound senior is the best sixth man in the Pac-12 and while he starts off on the bench, he doesn't stay there for long.
In 22.3 minutes per contest, Aden is averaging 15.1 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting from the field. He averages less than one three-point attempt per game and he excels at taking his man off the dribble and getting to the rim for high percentage looks.
In conference play, Aden is the Cougars' second best scorer at 14.7 points per contest, signaling he is more comfortable this season playing in the Pac-12. As a junior Aden averaged 16.1 points heading into conference play, a number that dropped to 10.9 points in 18 conference games.
While Motum and Aden are not really threats from the perimeter, they give WSU a duo that will keep them competitive in most games. The defender that draws Aden will need to keep his feet on the ground and not fall for his shot fakes and stay in front of him as he attacks the rim.
With Enquist getting less than 20 minutes per game, 6-foot-7, 215-pound senior Abe Lodwick has been the primary recipient of his minutes. In 18 minutes off the bench, Lodwick is averaging four points and 3.4 rebounds, including 4.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in seven Pac-12 games.
Washington State poses some matchup problems for Arizona, but fortunately for the Wildcats the Cougars are 2-4 on the road this season and are still in search of their first conference road win after three previous unsuccessful attempts. It should be an exciting prelude to Saturday's game against Washington, but Thursday night will be a tough game for Arizona to start to finish.