Washington State stuns Arizona in McCallie, clinches first place for Pac-12

In an atmospheric stage at the McKale Center where Arizona could have taken the lead in the Pac-12 race, the Wildcats instead handed the top spot to a team picked to finish 10th.

Washington State handed Arizona its first loss to McCallie this season, 77-74, when Caleb Love scored 27 points but had to punt a foul shot from about half the court as time expired.

The loss dropped Arizona to 20-6 overall and 11-4, putting the Wildcats a half-game behind the Cougars (21-6, 12-4). While the teams are tied in the loss column, WSU will own the tiebreaker between them because the Cougars also beat Arizona on Jan. 13 in Pullman.

The Cougars, who swept the season series against the Wildcats, played with poise throughout a game that was mostly played within two possessions.

Going into the game's final minute tied at 71, the Wildcats' defense forced WSU's Jaylen Wells to make an errant 3-pointer. After Omar Ballou grabbed the rebound, Love drove inside for a layup and drew a foul.

Love hit the ensuing one-and-one to make it 74-71, but after Myles Rice missed a 3-pointer, Wells hit a 3 from the left corner when Johnson fouled him.

The three-pointer tied the game at 74 with 24.6 seconds left and prompted UA to call a timeout, after which Wells hit the free throw to give WSU a 75-74 lead.

On UA's next possession, Jones fired an inside shot from Love with 9.3 seconds left, but the ball went out of bounds and Arizona recovered the ball. Jaden Bradley then got in to Keshad Johnson, who passed to Love — but Love slipped as he drove to the basket and turned the ball over. WSU then went into Wells, who was fouled and hit both free throws to give WSU a 77-74 lead.

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As Wales crossed the line, one of the sticks entered the field and fans were warned that throwing objects onto the field could result in a technical foul, an announcement that was met with boos.

After Wells' shots, the Wildcats had 2.4 seconds to put the ball away. Kellan Boswell passed to Love along the sideline inside the half-court line but his last-second 45-foot shot missed.

Wells finished with 27 points to lead the Cougars, who shot just 41.9% but had just nine turnovers and only led by one. Arizona shot 44.8% but was just 5 of 18 from 3-point range and made just 17 of 27 free throws.

Arizona held a one-point lead with 2:39 left but Wells scored a 15-footer late in the shot clock to give WSU a 71-69 lead with 1:56 remaining before Johnson tied it at 71 with a short jumper from the left baseline with 91 seconds remaining. .

Trailign 34-33 at halftime Arizona used defense to set up two goals from Johnson to take a 43-39 lead three minutes into the second half.

Ballou first blocked a shot from Isaac Jones, leading to an alley-oop pass from Love to Johnson for a layup that tied it at 38. Later, Johnson set up a dunk of his own, blocking Jones, which led to another alley-oop pass from Love Which Johnson slammed as he raced to the right of the rim.

But WSU went on a 10-1 run to take a 57-51 lead with nine minutes left, and after a 3-pointer from Love later brought the Wildcats within two points, they again showed their poise when UA often melts other opponents: Kishad Johnson raced past WSU guard Myles Rice To block a fast layup — but WSU forward Kimani Houinsou picked it up and slammed it as Johnson's momentum took him out of bounds.

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A Houinsou dunk gave WSU a 60-55 lead but Cougars forward Isaac Jones picked up his third and fourth fouls on back-to-back possessions, the first on offense and the second while defending Johnson, who hit two free throws to give UA a brief 61-60 lead. WSU's Jaylen Wells later hit a 3-pointer to give WSU a 67-63 lead but another from Love put the Wildcats back in front 68-67 heading into the final media timeout with 2:39 remaining.

In the first half, Love scored 17 points but Arizona trailed WSU 34-33 at halftime.

Arizona and Washington State entered the game just a half-game apart atop the Pac-12 race and the game quickly reflected the competitiveness of the two teams while the McCallie Center was lit up with a raucous, near-capacity crowd that was given red sticks. Before the match.

The Cougars set the tone immediately, taking an early 9-8 lead into the first media timeout after UA committed three turnovers in the first four minutes. WSU led by as many as seven points, 31-24 with 3:54 remaining, but the Wildcats scored six straight points to take a 31-30 lead with 2:18 remaining.

Love then hit a 25-footer to give UA a 33-32 lead with 47 seconds left while the McKale Center crowd rose to its feet waving the red Glo sticks that had been placed on each seat before the game. WSU's Andrej Jakimovski picked up a foul from Pelle Larsson with 22 seconds left and hit the next two free throws to put the Cougars back in front at 34-33.

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Love had a chance to give Arizona the lead before halftime but his final three-point attempt with two seconds left bounced off the rim.

Love finished shooting 5-for-11 from the field in the first half, made 2 of 7 3-pointers, and hit all five of his free throws. Arizona shot 44.8% from the field as a team but made just 2 of 10 3-pointers.

The Cougars, who beat the Wildcats 73-70 on Jan. 13 in Pullman, shot just 39.4% but matched the Wildcats' 18 points in the paint, making their shifting defense difficult for Arizona to penetrate.

Arizona rallied from WSU 21-17 but committed eight turnovers in the first half and hit just 5 of 10 free throws overall, with center Omar Ballou and forward Keshad Johnson missing each.

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