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Hoops preview: WSU vs. No. 7/9 Arizona

ARIZONA HEAD MAN Sean Miller reportedly in the past has placed such a huge emphasis on offensive rebounding percentage that he uses the statistic during timeouts and at halftime. So what might that mean for the Cougs as they prepare to tip off at No. 7/9 Arizona (6:30 pm, Pac-12 Networks) on Thursday?

Trouble, perhaps, according to Ken Pomeroy stats.  Arizona (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12) is No. 46 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (34.0).  On the other end of the floor, Washington State is 347th in the land (18.9) out of 351 teams.   Pomeroy pegs Arizona’s chances of winning Thursday night at home at 98 percent, with a predicted 82-59 final score.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance

Arizona is tied atop the Pac-12 standings with Oregon and has won 12 straight. Shooting 39.5 percent from downtown, ‘Zona is one of the best 3-point shooting teams nationally (18th) and in the Pac-12 (2nd).  But Ernie Kent said this week Washington State (10-9, 3-4) won’t change its game plan defensively for the Wildcats.

“Not necessarily because we know that going in … everybody (in the Pac-12) shoots the ball well so defensively it just requires you to be locked in and pay attention to detail,” said Kent.

Arizona guard Allonzo Trier played for the first time this season in UA's win last week at UCLA.  Kent said Arizona’s starting five and key bench players are consistently “on their games … if we can do that, we can play with these teams.”

Kent also said he doesn’t plan for Charles Callison to shoot the rock more against Arizona.  The senior guard is averaging 6.8 shots per game this season but last time out had a monster performance in the overtime win vs. Colorado, connecting on 12 of 16 shots for 30 points.

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Malachi Flynn is on pace to finish sixth on WSU’s freshman list for scoring average with 11.3 ppg. Klay Thompson is No. 4 at 12.5 ppg, Bennie Seltzer is No. 5 at 11.7.
  • UA forward Lauri Markkanen has been a matchup nightmare for Pac-12 teams this season. Against the LA schools last week, the 7-footer averaged 20.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and shot 64 percent from the floor including 8-of-10 from 3-point land.
  • With 11 games to go in the regular season, the Cougars (10-9, 3-4) have surpassed their win total from last year (9) and in conference games (1).
  • With 896 rebounds, Josh Hawkinson is 96 away from the all-time WSU record (992, Steve Puidokas).  If Hawkinson averages 8.72 rebounds the rest of the regular season, he would become the 13th Pac-12 basketball players with 1,000 career rebounds.
  • Hawkinson is also three double-doubles away from the school record, also held by Puidokas (52). Hawkinson (1,231 points) is 18th on WSU's career scoring list. At his current pace, he would finish 12th all-time at Washington State.
  • WSU will finish its trip to the desert in Tempe to take on Arizona State (9-11, 2-5) on Sunday. Tip is 11 a.m. Pacific (pac-12 Network).

RELATED: Callison unstoppable in OT win


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