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January 26, 2012

Lineup likely to change, but not to Aden

Faisal Aden enjoyed one of his biggest weeks as a Cougar against Stanford and California. It just won't put him back in the starting lineup.

After averaging 28.5 points in his last two games, senior Faisal Aden won the Pac-12 Player of the Week, as well as the being named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week.

WSU coach Ken 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 3-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."

Following a quick two-game homestand, the Cougars return to the road, traveling to the Arizona schools beginning with the Wildcats (13-7, 4-3) on Thursday.

The Cougs (11-8, 3-4) are tied for fifth in the Pac-12, 2 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.

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 weekend's 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 in conference road games so far, 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 and grabbing 7.5 rebounds a game. Alongside Perry, senior guard Kyle Fogg averages 11.8 points.

"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 comes in off a tough loss to Colorado last Saturday. The Wildcats shot a dismal 34 percent from the floor against the Buffaloes, including three of 20 from beyond the arc.

The Wildcats have had an up-and-down year.

They have looked great at times, even being ranked No. 16 in the nation at one point. But they have looked simply dreadful at others, including a 65-58 loss to an 8-7 UCLA team.

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."

The Cougs will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. on ROOT Sports.

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