Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Pregame: 3:30 p.m. on 1290 a.m. (Brad Allis, Pete Delgado, John Schuster, Ryan Radtke, Joe Nehls)
Postgame call-in show: 1290 a.m. approximately 30 minutes after the end of the game.
TV: FSNA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
On-Line: Arizona All Access (subscription required)
Washington St. at a glance: Location: Pullman, WA
Coach: Dick Bennett
Leading Scorer: Thomas Kelati (13.3)
Leading Rebounder: Jeff Varem (7.9)
Leading Assists: Thomas Kelati (3.0)
Last Meeting: Washington State upset the Cats 70-63 in Tucson.
Last Time Out: Behind a school record nine three-pointers by Salim Stoudamire, Arizona handled Oregon State 91-70. Washington State lost to #14 Washington 68-55.
OVERVIEW: Arizona enters this game with some serious motivation after being embarrassed by the Cougars at home January 29th. Arizona fell to the Cougars just two days after defeating Washington, giving them a one game lead in the Pac-10. Since the loss, Arizona has been playing a completely different game of basketball dominating their opponents in nearly every category.
"Regarding Washington State, obviously there are huge incentives for us," Head Coach Lute Olson said. "One, I think, they got us here and we hate to lose twice to any team. Secondly, it would put us in a position to face Washington with a one-game lead."
Washington State controlled the tempo last time they faced the Cats, slowing the game down to an excruciating pace which the UA could not escape. Arizona however is expecting this type of slow down play from the Cougars, and do not expect to slip up the second time around.
"Playing at Washington State is always difficult with the style of play," added Olson.
Washington State's scoring and assist leader Thomas Kelati disabled the Cats scoring 27 points on his own. The senior guard has been playing an average of 35.6 minutes and is expected to do the same against Arizona.
"(Thomas) Kelati just killed us," Olson noted. "That was the game that I sat Chris (Rodgers) out. Obviously that would have made a difference to have him out there defending Kelati, too."
Despite Kelati's strong performance, Arizona still needs to be aware of Jeff Varem at all times. Varem's 7.9 rebound average leads the team, but he is also averaging 10.8 points per game. Varem is Washington State's most versatile player at only 6'6".
Derrick Low, Robbie Cowgill, and Chris Schlatter round out the starting five for Wazzu and cannot be taken lightly. All of these players can shoot the rock with pretty good consistency. As always, they will be gunning for the Cats.
KEY MATCH-UP: Chris Rodgers/Salim Stoudamire vs. Thomas Kelati/Jeff Varem. This game's key match-ups lie in the guard positions. Rodgers was forced to sit out the last game against Washington State and it was believed at the time that he could have held Kelati from scoring the 27 points he put up, and lead Arizona to victory. He has the task of holding him once again.
In the second key match-up Stoudamire will need to be all over Varem. Varem is Washington State's third guard but has been known to play small forward and power forward. He is clearly their most versatile player, and Stoudamire will need to be aware of the dangerous player.
Rodgers and Stoudamire will need to share the defensive pressure on both players. If either of the Wazzu guards are given room to shoot, it could be a long, slow game for the Cats.
STORYLINE: Lute Olson can tie John Wooden for most Pac-10 confence wins as a head coach with a win tonight. Salim Stoudamire is within 12 made threes to break the conference mark held by Stevin Smith.
OUTLOOK: Arizona enters this game playing unbelievably well. The team is gelling and it is evident in all areas. Stoudamire has been putting up excellent numbers including a school record nine three-pointers last game, one shy of the Pac-10 record. Fellow senior Channing Frye has also been playing very well, and will be key inside. Arizona severely over sizes the Cougars down low, and Arizona will need to exploit this.
Another Arizona player who has come alive recently is Ivan Radenovic. Radenovic has been excellent inside and his defense has been suffocating. He is looking extremely comfortable on the court, and is eying a career in the NBA.
If Arizona can control the tempo, and the boards, they should come away with the win. Arizona has plenty of motivation in this game. They should win, and win big. There is no doubt that the Cats regret what happened against Wazzu the first time around, and shouldn't let it happen again. A win against the Cougars give the Wildcats at least a one game advantage against Washington on Saturday.