COUGAR BASKETBALL: No. 21 Washington State shocks No. 4 Arizona to take first place in th Pac-12

Feb. 23—TUCSON, Ariz. — Washington State sharpshooter Jaylen Wells was fouled on a 3-pointer from the corner and made the ensuing free throw for a four-point play to lift the No. 21 Cougars over No. 4 Arizona for a major men's basketball upset.

WSU (21-6, 12-4 Pac-12) defeated the Wildcats 77-74 on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz., to sweep the Pac-12 Conference's top team on a season in which the Cougars returned zero double-digit scorers going in.

The victory leapfrogged the Cougars over the Wildcats into first place in the league standings. Not bad for a team picked to finish in 10th place going into the season.

"I knew we had a shot and felt confident, but Arizona is really good," WSU coach Kyle Smith said in a radio interview moments after the final buzzer.

"Well, heck. I guess we are too."

It was WSU's eighth straight win, its first sweep of Arizona (20-6, 11-4) since 2010 and first season ever with two wins against a top-10 team.

Wells led the way with 27 points. The former NCAA Division II star went 6-of-10 from 3-point land.

Senior forward Isaac Jones added 16 points for the Cougars, most coming in the second half. Arizona point guard Caleb Love had 27 points.

WSU trailed 74-71 with 51 seconds left after Love converted a driving layup and free throw for a traditional three-point play.

With 24 seconds left, WSU forward Andrej Jakimovski grabbed a rebound off a missed Cougar 3, then dished to Wells in the corner right in front of the Arizona bench.

Wells hoisted up the triple while being fouled by Arizona's Keshad Johnson to tie the game at 74. He made the free throw for the heroic four-point play and a 75-74 Wazzu lead.

"Unbelievable," Smith said. "The sense to find Jaylen in the corner, (and) boy, Jaylen made some clutch shots. Big shots. He's good."

Jones got a block on Love on the other end and Arizona was forced to foul Wells again with just two seconds left. Wells made two more free throws for the final margin.

On a night when WSU's leading scorers Myles Rice and Jones were held to just five points in the first half, Wells and freshman center Rueben Chinyelu stepped up big.

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Chinyelu had a career-high 12 points to go along with 11 rebounds for a double-double. Jakimovski added six points, five rebounds and four assists.

Oumar Ballo tallied 16 points and 11 rebounds to finish behind Love in scoring for Arizona.

"We had opportunities," Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. "They've been really good in close games, they're a team on a roll and they found a way. They made some clutch, big-time plays down the stretch."

In a game between the Pac-12's best offensive team in Arizona against the best defensive team in WSU, those who stayed up late to watch the 8 p.m. Pacific tipoff got a treat.

The contest featured 13 lead changes, 10 ties and was close the whole way.

WSU was able to control the pace and slow down an Arizona team that averaged 90.7 points per game going in — No. 2 in the NCAA.

The Cougars led 34-33 at halftime and improved to 18-0 on the season when leading at intermission.

With the win, they are now in the driver's seat for the Pac-12 regular-season title. Next up, they play Arizona State at 5 p.m. Saturday in Tempe, Ariz.

"I think this was a big win for us just because they thought we were the underdog," Wells said. "People were saying 'You gotta go play Arizona.' Nah, they gotta play us."


Jakimovski 1-8 4-4 6, Jones 4-9 8-11 16, Wells 9-16 3-3 27, Cluff 1-5 1-2 3, Rice 2-12 1-2 5, Chinyelu 6-7 0-0 12, Houinsou 3-5 2-2 8, Watts 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-62 19-24 77.

ARIZONA (20-6)

Johnson 4-9 4-6 12, Ballo 6-8 4-8 16, Boswell 2-8 1-2 6, Larsson 4-8 0-0 8, Love 8-20 7-8 27, Bradley 1-3 0-0 2, Lewis 1-1 1-3 3, Krivas 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-58 17-27 74.

Halftime — Washington St. 34-33. 3-Point Goals — Washington St. 6-18 (Wells 6-10, Jakimovski 0-4, Rice 0-4), Arizona 5-18 (Love 4-12, Boswell 1-4, Johnson 0-1, Larsson 0-1). Rebounds — Washington St. 35 (Chinyelu 11), Arizona 36 (Ballo 11). Assists — Washington St. 13 (Jakimovski 4), Arizona 15 (Love 5). Total Fouls — Washington St. 22, Arizona 20. A — 14,688 (14,644).