The Washington St. Cougars (2-8 in conference) are looking for a road sweep in Arizona as they come to Tucson after their surprise dismantling of Arizona State in Tempe. They beat the Sun Devils by 21 and were in command for just about the entire game. The Cat’s woes continue as they dropped to 5-5 in conference play after a home loss to the Pac-12’s first place team, Washington, and have lost 5 of their last 6 including 4 in a row.
#3 Robert Franks 6’9″ F (Sr.) 22.1 points, 7.7 rebounds per game.
#2 CJ Elleby 6’6″ F (Fr.) 15.3 points, 6.7 rebounds per game.
#5 Brandon Randolph 6’6″ G (So.) 14.6 points, 3.6 rebound per game.
#4 Chase Jeter 6’10” C (Jr.) 12.3 points, 7 rebounds per game.
The Cougars have used 11 different starting lineups this season and are led by Senior Forward Robert Franks. Franks leads the Pac-12 in scoring and at 6’9″ is also a very good 3-point shooter at 36%. He is a versatile and strong post player who spends just as much time on the perimeter and has attempted more 3’s this year than any player on Arizona. The Cougars are 1st in the Pac-12 in 3-point shots attempted. They average, in league play, 26 3-point attempts per game compared to Arizona’s 21 per game. They have 8 players shooting over 30% from 3 for the season. Going in to their game against ASU they had only won 1 of their previous 12 games so the win in Tempe was quite a shock. ASU had its worst shooting performance of the year making only 5 of 33 3-point attempts in that game.
Franks and Elleby are this team’s best players while Viont’e Daniels, Marvin Cannon, Ahmed Ali, and Carter Scaggs all contribute consistent play. Daniels and Elleby both shoot 39% from 3. Washington St. has really good depth with 10 players averaging at least 13 minutes per game. They are the best free throw shooting team in the Pac-12 at a highly respectable and praiseworthy 80%. The Cats are in 2nd place making 75% of their free throws.
This should be a good offensive matchup as neither team has a real size advantage. Washington definitely has the edge on team depth but we can expect Arizona to come out with a lot of energy and attitude for this game. The Cats, in league play, are only shooting the 2-point shot 6% better than their 3-point shots. 42% from 2 and 36% from 3 and are, for the season, 280th in the NCAA for 2-point percentage at 48%.
Washington State is last in the Pac-12 allowing 82 points per game. This should be a bit refreshing for the Cats after having just faced the league’s best defense. The Cougars use a variety of defenses and have switched between man, 2-3 zone, and 1-3-1 zone. Arizona is coming off one of its worst shooting games of the year at 37% from the field as well as the most turnovers in one game they’ve had all year with 20–due in part to Washington’s excellent defense. In their previous 3 games the Cats had a total of 26 turnovers combined. This should be a good game for Arizona to get back on track as Washington State’s defense is one of the worst in the NCAA and ranks 327th in points allowed per game.
The Cats will play their usual pack-line man-to-man defense. How Coach Miller decides to handle Robert Franks will be the key question for them. They’ll need someone to be able to guard him both inside and on the perimeter and could choose to double team him in the post. He has moved his game more to the perimeter over the years as he only averages 2 more 2-point attempts per game than 3-point attempts.
These are the two worst teams in the Pac-12 at defending the 3-point shot. Arizona is allowing a .389 average from 3 against them in league play while the Cougars allow an average of .387 from 3. We can expect a lot of shots to go up this game and more than a few 3’s but this game might just be won by the team that does the better job in the paint and on the glass.
For the Cats, Brandon Williams will sit again this game as he recovers from a knee issue. The backcourt committee of Randolph, Justin Coleman, Dylan Smith, Devonaire Doutrive, and Alex Barcello will have to pick up the slack and provide productive minutes for Arizona, especially on the defensive end against the Cougars’ guard and perimeter oriented lineup.