Following a quick two-game homestand, the Cougars (11-8, 3-4) will be back on the road as they travel to Arizona to square off with the Wildcats (13-7, 4-3).
The Cougs are tied for fifth in the conference and are 2.5 games out of first.
This week could be crucial for the Cougs who are on a two-game winning streak after beating Stanford and Cal last week.
Head Coach Ken Bone said at his Tuesday press conference that his team is ready for the challenges of conference road games.
“Well we’ve only had one practice since last weekends’ games with Stanford and California,” Bone said. “It wasn’t a super-energetic practice but the attitudes were good and the effort was decent, but we need to be better today to go on the road and compete against a couple other Pac-12 schools.”
WSU is 0-3 on conference road games so far this year, but have played some of their best basketball as of late.
Bone said the most important aspect of playing on the road is mental toughness and he believes his squad is poised to play well on the road.
“I think this team has been pretty mature and playing with good experience on the road,” Bone said. “We have won a couple games on the road this year. I think in those game we showed a good level of maturity.”
Senior Jesse Perry leads the Wildcats, scoring 11.9 points per game while grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game. Alongside Perry, the Wildcats have senior guard Kyle Fogg who is averaging 11.8 points per game this season.
Bone compared the Arizona lineup to that of the Washington Huskies, as both teams have a plethora of talent and experience.
“I see them like I do Washington - a team loaded with talent,” Bone said. “They also have some experience there with Hill and Perry and (Brendon) Lavender, they got some really, really good pieces.”
Arizona is coming into the game after a tough loss at the hands of Colorado last Saturday. In the game, the Wildcats shot a dismal 34 percent from the floor, including 3-20 from beyond the arc.
The Wildcats have had quite an up-and-down year so far.
They have looked great at times, as they were ranked 16 in the nation at one point in time. But, they have also looked simply dreadful at others, as they lost to 65-58 to a UCLA team that was 8-7 at the time.
Nonetheless, Bone is preparing for Arizona and said he may consider shaking up the starting line-up, by either inserting Abe Lodwick or Faisal Aden.
“Arizona guards differently than California,” Bone said. “When you put Abe Lodwick in the line-up instead of Charlie (Endquist) it adds a different dimension. It’s not always a positive dimension because Charlie’s long and tall and he can add some things inside. But, on the offensive end we can extend the defense a little bit.”
After averaging 28.5 points in his last two games, senior Faisal Aden was awarded the Pac-12 Player of the Week as well as the being named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week.
Bone said he considered placing Aden back in the starting line-up, but also added that he isn’t really concerned with the starters, but more with who finishes the game.
“He was really good,” Bone said. “He didn’t depend on his three point shot like he has in the past. I think he just went out and just scored, whether it was driving to the rim and getting there or maybe getting fouled or pulling up on his midrange shot - which is really effective.”
The Cougs will tip-off at 7:30 on Thursday, the game can be seen on ROOT Sports.