The Arizona Wildcats are now 9-0 in conference play for only the fourth time ever, and the first time since 1997-98 after downing the Washington Huskies by a score of 77-66 Sunday afternoon in McKale Center.
The win is also the 100th conference win for Sean Miller at Arizona, and extends the team’s winning streak to 14 games. That’s the third-longest streak in the country behind Gonzaga and New Mexico State.
It wasn’t easy though, as the team struggled mightily in the first half, only leading for 1:39 of the first 20 minutes. But as the second half wore on, Arizona rolled to a relatively large margin of victory.
It was an ugly first 15 minutes or so for Arizona, falling behind by as much as nine. The Wildcats were unable to get any flow to the offense as UW’s zone was giving them fits. UA had seven turnovers to just one assist to start the game.
Then things started to turn a little bit.
Arizona went on a 14-5 run to even the score at 31 thanks to a couple of threes and actually making free throws. Even throughout the early struggles, Washington was constantly fouling, which allowed the Cats to stay in the game for the most part.
The Huskies didn’t even attempt a free throw in the first half, while Arizona was 9-of-13, resulting in the small two-point deficit at the break. It was also a 12 to 6 foul advantage for the Cats.
Noah Dickerson, UW’s third-leading scorer and top rebounder this year, picked up his fourth foul of the game just over five minutes into the second half. Matisse Thybulle, the fourth-leading scorer, picked up his fourth just two minutes later, severely hindering the Huskies’ ability to score the ball the rest of the way.
Dickerson ended up fouling out with 7:33 left in the game. He ended up with ten points and nine rebounds. From there, Washington hovered about ten points behind the Wildcats, but could never make a significant dent in the gap.
Here are some major things that stood out on Sunday:
UA started the game 0-of-8 from three before Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier drained one each to close the first half.
Lauri Markkanen’s first long ball came halfway through the second half, but it was a big one, putting Arizona up 57-49. He was left wide open at the top of the arc, forcing Lorenzo Romar to call a timeout immediately after as McKale burst into Sandstorm.
The final numbers from the outside weren’t awful (7-for-21), especially considering how poor the start was.
Washington actually had more offensive rebounds (10) than defensive rebounds (9) in the first half, giving them a 14-6 advantage in second chance points. UW ended up +6 in that department when it was all said and done.
Speaking of chances, Chance Comanche was feeling physical early on in this one, getting into a bit of an elbow battle with Dominic Green, giving the UW forward his second foul in just three minutes of action. Green had been averaging 7.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game coming into this contest. He had zero of both in Tucson.
In the second half, Comanche threw down his second nasty baseline dunk of the game to put Arizona up six at the time, which was their biggest lead up to that point.
While the Wildcats went with the starting lineup we’ve seen for two months now, it is worth noting that the substitution pattern was slightly different. In both the first and second half, Trier came off the bench just two minutes into each period rather than waiting for the first media timeout like the last two games.
Maybe that means Trier is closer to entering the starting lineup, maybe not. In the first half, he subbed in for Kobi Simmons, and in the second half it was for Alkins. So it’s still a game feel type of thing and not some sort of scripted thing that Sean Miller is using.
Also, Keanu Pinder did not play in this one.
Parked at Zero
Parker Jackson-Cartwright did not have a field goal attempt this week. That is all.
Arizona returns to action on Thursday night at Oregon State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 PM MT.