USA TODAY Sports
Solomon Hill was hard to stop from beyond the arc, and the Arizona Wildcats rode impressive performances from their freshmen big men in a victory at Washington State.
Potential has been high for Sean Miller's team throughout this season. Few times has Arizona shown all of it at the same time.
The Arizona Wildcats swept the Washington schools for the first time since 2006 with Saturday's 79-65 victory against the Washington State Cougars in Pullman. Most notably, the Wildcats saw all three of its freshmen big men play with a grit and their dynamic game-changing personalities that had made them top-10 high school recruits.
Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley scored 10 points each on just five shots while combining for nine boards, yet it was Grant Jerrett off the bench who displayed the most playmaking ability. He only scored five points to go with five rebounds, but his four blocks, two assists and a steal showcased a growing confidence.
That was overlooking Arizona's best player on Saturday. Solomon Hill scored 18 points on six three-pointers to go with two assists and two steals. He also continued to be excellent in the turnover department with only one giveaway.
And that was overlooking Arizona's high-scorer. Mark Lyons scored 20, including big plays in the final five minutes that put away WSU. The Wildcats' starting point continued to struggle as a floor general with four turnovers, though his foul trouble gave Nick Johnson minutes at the 1 position. A quiet night for Johnson still had him leading Arizona with five assists.
Arizona opened up a 12-point, 26-14, lead in the first half. After allowing seven points in the first two minutes of the game, they allowed just seven in the next 10 minutes.
On the night, the Wildcats held the Cougars to 41 percent shooting and 32 percent from three-point range. A relatively low-turnover game was a solid sign for Arizona after the 17-turnover debacle against Washington on Thursday. UA committed just nine turnovers against WSU.
Leading by as many as 17 in the first half, the Wildcats led 40-26 at halftime but couldn't quite put WSU away for good until the final few minutes.
That defense was strong all night long. The Wildcats had their way against the pick-and-roll, hedging with the big men strongly and having focus in weakside rotations. That is, after all, a part in Jerrett's success in the block department. Miller even rolled out a rare zone for a brief second.
The game went about as it should for a top-10 team facing a .500 Pac-12 squad. The Cougars didn't play all that bad, but eventually couldn't hang considering their offensive deficiencies they've had all season long. Brock Motum fouled out after scoring 15 points thanks to solid defense.
A new rotation in the backcourt
Mark Lyons' foul trouble changed the complexion of the Arizona backcourt, but it was a sign that Miller knows he has options. Johnson played admirably, as he did at the point last season. He only took five shots, and like Hill, took what the offense gave him and didn't force anything with the younger bigs playing so well.
Still, Jordin Mayes and Gabe York each got more time when Lyons sat. Each went 1-of-4 to hit a three-pointer, and York settled down after he lasted just one possession upon entering -- he left after a badly-missed three and then getting blown by on the other end, but later returned.
Meanwhile, Mayes played at the two-guard spot alongside Lyons for some stints of time, a good thing for Miller to keep doing to help the depth. While Mayes is often underwhelming, he isn't mistake-prone.
Kevin Parrom ejected
About the only negative result from the Wildcats' win was Kevin Parrom being ejected early in the first half for a retaliation, closed-fisted jab at DaVonte Lacy after a jostling for a rebound.