Cougs suffer two setbacks against Arizona

WASHINGTON STATE'S zone defense was torched from outside Thursday by Arizona's torrid Wildcats, but the biggest blow may have been the loss of reigning national and Pac-12 Player of the Week Faisal Aden. The senior guard went down with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and is out indefinitely.

As for the game itself, the tale is best told by this statistic: The Wildcats made 15 of 27 treys. They won 85-61.

Despite shooting just 44.2 percent from the field entering the game, Arizona's offense was hardly an unknown quanity, sporting two of the Pac-12's top 3-point shooters in Brendon Lavender and Kyle Fogg. The Cougars had no solution for the latter as Fogg hit four 3-pointers en route to 18 of his game-high 20 points at halftime.

Arizona shot 50 percent and hit 7 of 12 3-pointers to take a 42-27 lead at the intermission.

The loss drops the Cougs to 12-9 overall and 3-5 in league play. They now head to Tempe for a Saturday tilt with ASU (2 p.m. tipoff with TV coverage on ROOT).

"They're so much quicker than us at every single position," WSU coach Ken Bone said during a postgame radio interview.

And WSU struggled to solve the Wildcats' defense. The Cougs made just one 3-pointer and shot 9 of 24 from the field during the first half.

Arizona (14-7, 5-3) only allowed opponents to shoot 40.3 percent from the field entering the game. That is second to only Colorado in the Pac-12 and the game had a similar feel to the Cougars' 71-60 loss Jan. 7 in Boulder, Colo., where they similarly were dominated before a late rally.

AFTER CONSECUTIVE WINS against first-place Stanford and California last week at Friel Court, WSU hoped to find some consistency away from Pullman to enhance its postseason prospects. Instead, the Cougars fell to 0-4 in conference road games.

It did not help that Aden, who was named as the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Pac-12 Player of the Week after averaging 28.5 points per game last week, played just 11 minutes after suffering a left knee injury. Aden was injured while driving to the basket and remained on the court until time was stopped with 4:02 left in the first half.

"We need to figure out how to play without a guy who has been playing extremely well," he said. "We're going to need to tweak some things."

In his short time, Aden converted 3 of 5 shots and scored six points. His recent transformation from a perimeter shooter to more of a slasher earned the praise of Fox Sports Net color commentator Marques Johnson.

"This is the new improved Faisal Aden," he said. "It's not your father's Faisal Aden."

But without Aden, it often felt like old times at the McKale Center before WSU snapped a 20-game losing streak in that building in 2005. The Cougars shot just 35.3 percent and their 24-point margin of loss was the worst of the season. They were led by junior center Brock Motum's 18 points. He converted all 10 of his free throws, but was just 4 of 13 from the field.

WSU's previous worst loss was 92-75 in its conference opener Dec. 29 against Oregon in Spokane. The Cougars then responded with a 81-76 victory two days later versus Oregon State.

A similar response at 2 p.m. Saturday at Arizona State (6-14, 2-6) might be necessary for the Cougars' postseason aspirations.

"It makes it harder to turn around so quickly against a team that plays so different. They make it difficult for teams."

  • Arizona freshman guard Josiah Turner was ejected with 10:06 left in the game. He and Motum initially were assessed technical fouls for trash talking. Turner later received a second technical when he shoved Motum. Turner finished with nine points.

  • WSU now has lost three consecutive games against Wildcats. Bone now is 2-3 versus Arizona.

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