On Friday night, after they cleared enough snow in the Palouse, Jacob Pullen and the fifth-ranked Kansas State Wildcats showed up for an unlikely basketball game at Washington State.
It was one that almost certainly would have never existed if not for the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, which forces teams such as K-State to play at schools such as WSU that have trouble attracting decent nonconference home games.
That's what the series can do.
But this is what it can also do, one reason it won't exist anymore after Arizona hosts Oklahoma on Sunday and three ensuing games are played:
Last season, just after Sean Miller's young Arizona Wildcats lost twice in the Maui Invitational then returned home to get beaten in double overtime by UNLV, they hopped two more planes and appeared in Oklahoma.
Not surprisingly, the Wildcats weren't competitive, losing 79-62 to the Sooners. Then, less than a week later, they went back on the road and were blown out at San Diego State.
Miller wouldn't say definitively if he was for or against continuing the Hardwood Series, but it's unlikely he would have squeezed in the game at Oklahoma last season if he had a choice.
"We're going to try to schedule aggressively and also schedule in the best interests of the team that we have," Miller said. "So being able to control it 100 percent is something we'd like the opportunity to have."
Miller said Pac-10 coaches appeared to be about split on the series, whose four-year contract expires this season, but that they did not vote on it.
The Big 12 was more interested. According to Big 12 associate commissioner John Underwood, who oversees men's basketball, all its coaches and ADs were interested in continuing the series but re-sisted the Pac-10's idea of holding some games at neutral sites.
"It's been very good," Underwood said. "I wish we were continuing it."
Even Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said he wanted to play more on-campus Hardwood games, even though the Sooners, like Arizona, can attract good home games on their own.
"I thought it was good for recruiting, to get to another part of the country and get with another elite-level league," Capel said.
Both Underwood and Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said the Pac-10's expansion push last spring, which led Colorado to leave the Big 12, was not a factor. But other complications included not only the forced scheduling but also the fact that the conferences have differing numbers of teams and differing television networks.
So in the end, as with many things Pac-10 these days, the issue came down to television and marketing perhaps as much as anything.
The Pac-10 can begin renegotiating with its current television partners next month, and then later explore other networks or the creation of its own network, for a deal that will begin in 2012.
"We want to start with a blank slate," Scott said. "One of the shortcomings of the Hardwood Series was that we had different broadcast partners. When we're hosting, it's on Fox Sports Net. When they're hosting, it's on ESPN. It's hard to market it and promote it the way the other conference affiliations are.
"It's helpful for some schools scheduling-wise; it's not so helpful for others. So we decided to take a step back, do our own TV deal, and we'll see."
• What: Oklahoma at Arizona
• When: 2 p.m. Sunday
• TV: FSAZ
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)
The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series
• 2007-08: Pac-10 7, Big 12 5
• 2008-09: Pac-10 6, Big 12 6
• 2009-10: Big 12 9, Pac-10 3
First three years total: Big 12 leads 20-16.
2010-11: Big 12 5, Pac-10 0
• Friday: Kansas State 63, Washington State 58
• Today: California at Iowa State, Texas Tech at Washington, Oregon State at Colorado
• Sunday: Oklahoma at Arizona, Texas at USC
• Dec. 11: Washington at Texas A&M
• Dec. 21: Stanford at Oklahoma State
Arizona results (1-3)
• Kansas 76, Arizona 72 (OT), at Lawrence, Nov. 25, 2007
• Arizona 78, Texas A&M 67, at McKale Center, Dec. 2, 2007
• Texas A&M 67, Arizona 66, at College Station, Dec. 5, 2008
• Arizona 84, Kansas 67, at McKale Center, Dec. 23, 2008
• Oklahoma 79, Arizona 62, at Norman, Dec. 6, 2009
Star reporter Patrick Finley contributed to this report.