Washington State ends No. 5 Arizona’s winning streak | WETM

TOWSON, Arizona (AP) — The roar of the Washington State locker room reverberated through a corridor under the bleachers at McCallie Center.

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

Playing confidently on one of college basketball’s toughest arenas, Washington State finished No. 5 on a 28-game winning streak at home in Arizona with a 74-61 win Saturday.

“You’re no different than the players—you have to dream about it,” Washington State head coach Kyle Smith said after his first win in three attempts at the McCallie Center. “You start thinking about calming the crowd down and in your mind own by possession. I looked and saw people score with 1:12 left and I was like, focus, focus, a lot of things can happen. And we managed to hold on.”

The Cougars (7-10, 2-4 Pac-12) shut down Arizona’s once mighty offense, creating a rare calm atmosphere inside McCallie’s center.

Muhammad Jay led the Washington State indoor game with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Jabe Mullins (13 points), Justin Powell (12) and DJ Rodman (11) scored on 12-for-28 from the 3-point arc.

Washington State built an 18-point lead midway through the second half, holding late Arizona State and playing physical defense all afternoon to end the nation’s third-longest winning streak.

“Our guys just came together, put in a massive effort, played hard and played right until the end,” 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 the fewest first-half points (27) in two seasons under head coach Tommy Lloyd and ran out of gas after a late 12-2 finish cut the Cougars’ lead to five.

Azulas Toplis had 29 points and 14 rebounds for Arizona.

“Today we had the opportunity to be a special day for McKale and it was for Washington State,” said Lloyd.

Once the highest-scoring team and best shooter in the country, the Wildcats rode 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 of 3 in the first half. TJ Bamba’s 3 on the halftime whistle put the Cougars ahead 37-27.

“It’s not confidence—we just had a bad day and missed the shots,” Topilis said.

Washington pushed the lead to 55-37 midway through the second half, taking shots every time Arizona attempted a run. The Wildcats finally got the crowd to its feet with a late 12-2 run to beat 61-56, but that turned out to be the last gasp.

Bamba scored a contested layup over 7-foot-1 Omar Ballou and then a short jumper, helping Washington State restore the lead to double digits—and the Wildcats fans to the outs.

“They were able to come up with a game plan that worked for them early on and they had some conviction,” said Lloyd. “We got in the hole early and deserved the result we got.”

The Big Picture

Washington State hit the desert as the most 3-point shooting team in the Pac-12. The Cougars were again good from the arc and played super defensive to knock out a top five team on the road for the first time.

Arizona needs to find a way to get their offense going again. Once they score over 90 points per game, the Wildcats have failed to get past 70 in three straight games since the non-conference schedule ended. A drop in the AP Top 25 will come Monday.

guarding the chrysalis

Kerr Kriisa is key to guiding Arizona’s offense, so Smith decides to try to disrupt it by having Arizona guard Bamba guard him.

Worked well for the Cougars. Kressa shot 3-for-13 – 2-for-11-of-3 – and was limited to three assists.

“You don’t usually have that kind of (guard) guy and as a bouncer, you’re like, Whoa,” Smith said. “I think if anything, the physical force might have pushed them back again because it kind of makes him go through a transition and half court.”

next one

Washington State: California hosts on Wednesday.

Arizona: Plays Oregon State on Thursday.


More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball, https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll, and https://twitter. com/AP_Top25

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