Washington State stuns Arizona for 1st-ever road win vs. top-5 team

Washington State stuns Arizona for 1st-ever road win vs. top-5 team

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Screams from the Washington State locker room echoed down a hallway under the bleachers at McKale Center.

An understandable celebration since the Cougars had just sent Arizona fans into the early exits with their first road win over a top-5 opponent in 122 years of basketball.

Playing with confidence in one of college basketball’s toughest road arenas, Washington State ended No. 5 Arizona’s 28-game home winning streak with a 74-61 victory on Saturday.

“You’re no different than the players — you have to dream it to make it come true,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said after his first win in three tries at the McKale Center. “You start thinking about calming down the crowd and you go through possession after possession in your mind. I looked up and saw people coming out with 1:12 left and I was like, focus, focus, a lot can happen. And we were able to stay ahead.”

The Cougars (7-10, 2-4 Pac-12) shut down Arizona’s once-powerful offense, creating a rare subdued atmosphere inside McKale Center.

Mouhamed Gueye led Washington State’s interior game with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Jabe Mullins (13 points), Justin Powell (12) and DJ Rodman (11) had a 12-for-28 day from the 3-point arc.

Washington State built an 18-point lead midway through the second half, withstood a late Arizona run and played physical defense all afternoon to end what had been the third-longest active winning streak in place.

“Our guys just came together, gave a tremendous effort, played really hard and played until the final buzzer,” Smith said after Washington State’s first win over a top-5 team since 1983.

The Wildcats (14-2, 3-2) struggled offensively for the third straight game, shooting 32% and 4 for 25 from the 3-point arc. Arizona had its fewest first-half points (27) in two seasons under coach Tommy Lloyd and ran out of gas after a late 12-2 run cut the Cougars’ lead to five.

Azoulas Tubelis had 29 points and 14 rebounds for Arizona.

“Today I had a chance to be a special day at McKale and it was for Washington State,” Lloyd said.

Once the nation’s top scoring and shooting team, the Wildcats rode their defense to wins over Arizona State and Washington while struggling on offense.

The Wildcats again struggled offensively and weren’t much better defensively, allowing Washington State to shoot 7-of-15 from 3 in the first half. TJ Bamba’s 3 at the halftime buzzer put the Cougars up 37-27.

“It’s not confidence — we had a bad day and missed shots,” said Arizona’s Pelle Larsson, who had seven points and five rebounds.

Washington pushed the lead to 55-37 midway through the second half, hitting shots every time Arizona tried to make a run. The Wildcats finally got the crowd on their feet with a late 12-2 run to pull within 61-56, but that proved to be their last gasp.

Bamba hit a contested layup over 7-foot-1 Oumar Ballo and then a short layup, helping Washington State get the lead back to double digits — and Wildcats fans to the exits.

“They were able to create a game plan that worked early for them and they had some conviction,” Lloyd said. “We got ourselves into an early hole and deserved the result we got.”


Washington State arrived in the desert as the Pac-12’s most prolific 3-point shooting team. The Cougars were again good from the arc and played great defense to knock off a top-5 team on the road for the first time.

Arizona needs to find a way to get its offense going again. After scoring more than 90 points per game, the Wildcats have failed to eclipse 70 in three straight games since the end of the non-conference schedule. A drop in the AP Top 25 comes Monday.


Kerr Kriisa is the key to setting up Arizona’s offense, so Smith decided to try to stop him by having Bamba, Arizona’s tough guard.

It has worked out well for the Cougars. Kriisa shot 3 for 13 – 2 for 11 from 3 – and was limited to three assists.

“Usually you don’t have that type of guy (guard) and as a point guard, you’re like, ‘Whoa,'” Smith said. “I think if anything, the physicality can bring them back because it makes him go a half-court in transition.”


Washington State: hosts California on Wednesday.

Arizona: Plays at Oregon State on Thursday.

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