There have been times of ugly basketball in the last few weeks, but the Arizona Wildcats are on a four game winning streak and have a favorable matchup on Thursday night. The UA has struggled historically on the road in Pullman and the Washington St. Cougars will not go down without a fight, but this really is a game Arizona should win.
The Wildcats will have to go with their shortened rotation once again as Jordin Mayes is not expected back for the game. This means the two bench players, Angelo Chol and Brendon Lavender, are really going to need to step up this evening. The Cougars will not be able to match Chol's athleticism and all signs point to a big game for the freshman forward, especially on the defensive end.
As for Lavender, he carried his team last Saturday while hitting three 3-pointers in the second half and needs to continue his stellar shooting to provide Arizona that x-factor they so desperately need. When he plays aggressively and the shot is falling, Arizona rises to a completely different level on the court.
The Cougars were beaten badly when visiting McKale Center in the final week of January and also lost their best scorer, Faisal Aden, to a torn ACL. After knocking off both California and Stanford, WSU has lost four of their last six games, including one over the weekend to Oregon.
Brock Motum has stepped up in a big way since losing Aden for the season and has averaged right around 25 points in his last five games. The 6'10'' forward could give Arizona a lot of problems on Thursday night and will likely be checked by Jesse Perry and Chol for most of the night.
DaVonte Lacy and Reggie Moore do a solid job facilitating the offense in the backcourt, although neither is much of a threat to go off offensively. Marcus Capers will start on the wing and is a solid glue guy, but he struggles to score the ball most nights. Abe Lodwick will have the fun assignment of guarding Solomon Hill, who recorded 17 points and a double-double in their first meeting.
This UA team has been so unpredictable this season that assuming anything is probably foolish, but Arizona really should win this game by double digits.