Washington State vs. Arizona odds, props, prediction: Cougars look to stay hot as big road underdog

Among the country’s élite squads, Arizona has been in a league of its own as a regular among the nation’s top-10 percent in offensive and defensive efficiency, and as a top-20 team against the spread.

It has not lost consecutive games this season, which it accomplished last season in Mark Few-disciple Tommy Lloyd’s first as a head coach, nor have the Wildcats lost a single game at home in this campaign. 

Last season, they did suffer that embarrassing first-round defeat to Princeton, in Sacramento, in the NCAA Tournament. So the Cats should know all about not getting ahead of themselves.

For now, they have a rematch with Washington State that had better pique their interests. If it doesn’t, and if Arizona should slip up here at home, it could be a harbinger of what awaits it in the NCAAs.

Washington State (20-6 SU, 14-12 ATS) vs. Arizona (20-5, 17-8) tips off at 11 p.m. ET on FS1.

Washington State vs. Arizona odds: Point spread, moneyline, total

Here are the latest college basketball betting odds for Cougars vs. Wildcats:

Washington State Cougars betting news and analysis

As a 9-point home underdog to Arizona on Jan. 13, the Cougars rallied in the Palouse and upended the highly rated visitors, 73-70.

Hence, Washington State has flirted with the top of the Pac-12 Conference, and it enters this rematch having won its past seven games — the fifth-best skein in the country — and 10 of its previous 11.

Of those 11 games, the Cougars have covered nine. Their mettle has been strengthened in three consecutive road wins, at Washington (Feb. 3), at Oregon State (Feb. 8) and at Oregon (Feb. 10).

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So they’re prepared for Arizona.

And the Cougars’ 74-61 triumph on this court last season, a bit more than 13 months ago, should also be fresh in the Wildcats’ memories.

The key to that first victory was Isaac Jones, a 6-foot-9 senior power forward who scored a team-high 24 points. It was his third consecutive double-figure output in points, and he’s tacked on nine more to run that streak to a dozen.

Myles Rice chipped in with 18 points, and the 6-foot-3 rookie point guard from South Carolina has since tallied 35, 21 and 25 points in victories.

This is the finest coaching job Kyle Smith, whose “Nerdball” system is heavy on metrics, has done not only in five seasons at Washington State but over his 14-year Division I career.

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Arizona Wildcats betting news and analysis

What stymied the Wildcats last time in Pullman, Wash., was their 18-for-48 shooting (37.5%) inside the 3-point arc, and that’s what Washington State must duplicate at McKale.

That just happens to be the main blueprint for success for the Cougars, whose 2-point defense (46.7%) is the best in the Pac-12 Conference.

What’s more, WSU’s 2-point defense on the season, at 44.9%, is the 14th-lowest in the country, and it has shaved that to 43.2% over its past three games.

That would frustrate most squads, but Arizona is adept at unselfish ball and making the extra pass. Its assists-to-turnovers rate of 1.618 is 14th in college hoops, and over its past three games that’s an impressive 2.545, fifth in the game.

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It will have to rely on executing many extra passes to crack this Wazzu defense, but it has the tape from that January game as an instructional asset.

But the Cats might not want to dwell on that one, either, because they sank just seven of 24 (29.2%) jacks beyond the arc.

Caleb Love went for a game-best 28 points in January, but the only help he got was the 11 points from big man Oumar Ballo. And Ballo showed that the free-throw line is his Achilles’ heel, making only three of seven attempts at the stripe.

(More disturbing is that Ballo does not even appear on a computer list of the college game’s top 100 most “NBA-efficient” players.)

This game, like that one, features the old tortoise-versus-hare fable, as Arizona’s typical 15.1 seconds per possession is a top-10 national speed rate while Wazzu’s tempo is among the most-deliberate 15% in the game.

In their past six games, all victories, the Wildcats have averaged 94.8 points. The Cougars have allowed only one of their previous seven foes to score more than 70 points, and that came in overtime.

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Washington State vs. Arizona player props

Player props for Washington State vs. Arizona are available at some top-rated sportsbooks. Here’s a look at the latest player points scored props:

Washington State vs. Arizona prediction ATS

Washington State is way too pesky to let this game get away from it, and several Wildcats might be shocked to get their shots shoved back at them by Jones, Oscar Cluff and Kymany Houinsou.

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While a triumph might be a lot to ask of the Cougars, a cover is confidently within their grasp.

Pick: Cougars

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