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GAME THREAD: Arizona at No. 17 WSU

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 23, 2008

Wildcats (16-10, 6-7) at Cougars (21-5 overall, 9-5 Pac-10)

Beasley Coliseum (Pullman, Wash.), 7 p.m. PT

Kind of like when the Cougs played Oregon, there aren’t a lot of mysteries here: When Arizona shoots well, it wins. Simple as that.

According to, Arizona has a strong correlation between effective field goal percentage and offensive efficiency. Remember, effective field goal percentage is one number that combines 3-point and 2-point percentage, appropriately giving more weight to the 3s because (duh) they’re worth more points.

In terms of eFG%, 50 percent is roundly recognized as the benchmark of good shooting. Consider this:

  • Arizona’s record in games in which the Wildcats shoot over 50 in eFG%: 13-3. They’ve won 11 of the last 12 such games in a row.
  • In games which the Wildcats shoot 50 or less in eFG%: 3-7. They’ve lost the last seven such games in a row.

If you’re wondering, Arizona shot 70.0 eFG% in the first blowout win over WSU. Can we expect that to change this time around? I think so, for three reasons.

First, 70 eFG% is a ridiculously high number that is nearly impossible to duplicate under any circumstance. To get that high, you’ve got to get extraordinarily hot from long range — the kind of hot you only get once or twice a year. For perspective, the Cougs’ highest eFG% in conference this year is 67 (in the second game against USC); UCLA’s is 66; Stanford’s is 57.3.

Second, Arizona is missing one of its prime long-range shooters, Nic Wise. He’s missed the last four games, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Arizona is 1-3 with eFG% of 45.1, 52.9, 42.2 and 45.5. This is a team that has virtually no depth and the Wildcats miss his ability to stretch the defense.

Third, this Cougar defense has undergone a remarkable transformation that, frankly, I didn’t think was possible. We are doing a much better job of containing penetration while simultaneously doing a great job getting out on 3-point shooters.

In short, this is a WSU team that is much better than it was in the first matchup, and an Arizona team that is worse. While Jarryd Bayless and Chase Budinger probably will get theirs, these are two teams heading in opposite directions. It should translate into a big home win for the Cougs.

Oh, and FYI: I probably won’t be around to comment on the game as it happens. I’ll be on the west side again at that point and probably won’t be able to get to a computer. But I’m sure Jo-Jo will be here to feed your in-game analysis needs.


3 Responses to “GAME THREAD: Arizona at No. 17 WSU”

  1. Ptowncoug said

    Cougs win 74 to 61! How’s that for a prediction?

  2. Longball said

    WTF was that, Cougs? We should be embarassed right now. There is no excuse for getting out hustled, out effort-ed and showing WAY less intensity than the short-handed McDiva All Americans from Arizona. The fact that at this stage of the season we have regressed back to an effort like that does not bode well for us. Bottom line, we have to win ALL 3 of our remaing games to call our Pac-10 season a success and i dont like our chances. The reason? Because our losses are coming at HOME. Sorry, 10 or even 11 wins is a failure for a VETERAN LOADED squad that just had to take care of business at home to win 12 or 13 games and a high tourney seed. Couple things that have been plagueing us for a while, but really hurt is tonight: 1) Why can’t our big men finish near the rim, like ever? While Arizona was mostly one dimensional, relying on the 3 ball, we were actually creating lots of high percentage chances and not converting. This isnt a new phenomenon by any means. 2) why do we insist on throwing the ball into Baynes in situations where he has proven he is 100% unable to handle the ball? How many times does something need to fail before you LEARN THAT IT DOESNT WORK? Baynes does not have good hands, and has never in his entire life anticipated help side D. We should never give him the ball unless the defender is at his back, or he is all alone. If he is fronted, forget it. even if he catches it (unlikely) he will turn into the help side defender and hand them the ball. I dont think those are necessarily the smoking guns in tonight’s loss, but they have been bugging me for a while and tonight they were particularly hard to watch because we needed scores so badly.

    I have no idea if Jekyl or Hyde is going to show up in the crimson uniforms in the Bay next week, but if you want to circle one game left on our schedule – March 8. Mark it down Cougs. We are just not that special at home and the Dawgs will be hungrier to ruin our senior night. Tonights loss almost makes it a certainty that will be a must-win for us, so we will be tight. while the dawgs, playing for nothing at all, will be fired up and loose.

    Oh yeah, and was Bayless poise in the 2nd half a little spooky for a freshman on the road in the Pac-10? kid is special for sure.

  3. Jo-Jo said

    Sorry that I wasn’t here for an all game comment session with Longball. I felt that it was important to be at a bar watching both the Cougs and the RockyTop shootout.

    Now that I’m back at home, and maybe too many Porters into making a serious analysis of the game, let me say this; I’m very upset as a Coug fan. This performance was unacceptable, and dare I say, a choke job. I will get back to all of you later with a legit break down of this stupid game. But I will brief you with this; make a frickin’ shot. Period (!).

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