Lauri Markkanen had 26 points and 13 rebounds, and Allonzo Trier added 21 points as the Arizona Wildcats were able to escape with a 76-68 road victory over the Washington Huskies on Saturday night in Seattle.
It is the fourth win in a row for Arizona, as its record improves to 25-3 overall and 14-1 in the Pac-12.
The two teams were knotted at 43 to start the second half, and Arizona quickly took the lead, taking a five-point lead after a 3 by Trier with just under 17 minutes to play.
However, the Huskies stormed back and a twirling layup by Markelle Fultz gave Washington its first lead since there was 17:55 left in the first half.
Trier responded by knocking down another 3 to put Arizona back up 54-52 with 14:01 to play, though.
That was the start of a 9-1 run for Arizona, which would put it up 60-53 with 10 minutes to play.
Arizona would extend its lead to 69-60 after a dunk by Trier in transition, but the Huskies answered with two baskets, including a Fultz 3, to make it 69-65 with 4:30 to play.
After Trier and Fultz traded free throws (there were a lot of them down the stretch), it was a 71-68 game with 1:48 left.
With Arizona up three, Markkanen badly missed a trey from the wing, but it ricocheted off the glass right to Chance Comanche under the rim, and he would slam it home to put Arizona up 73-68 with 53 seconds left.
The Wildcats would pull away from there.
Arizona shot 44 percent from the field, while Washington was at 43 percent. The Huskies outrebounded the Wildcats 36 to 35, though Arizona had a 17-9 edge in second-chance points.
Markkanen had seven offensive rebounds alone. He was 9-of-17 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Trier was 6-of-10 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3.
Trier got things started for Arizona in the first half as the Seattle native knocked down two 3s to begin the game and Parker Jackson-Cartwright quickly joined the fun, knocking down three 3s of his own in the first half, continuing his recent hot streak.
Meanwhile, Markkanen had 18 first-half points, with nearly all of them being scored in the paint.
Arizona’s offense as a whole was solid in the first 20 minutes, as it shot 47 percent from the field and 5-of-9 from 3.
Additionally, the Wildcats did a nice job of controlling the defensive glass as the Huskies only had one second-chance point, a complete 180 from the first matchup between these two teams.
However, that was all the Wildcats did well on the defensive end in the first half. Washington shot 58 percent in the period and a late 3 by Fultz allowed the Huskies to tie the game heading into halftime, despite UA leading by as many as eight points.
Arizona held Washington to a 32.3 field goal percentage in the second half, however.
The Wildcats were without two starters in this game as Kadeem Allen (pinky) and Dusan Ristic (ankle) both sat out. They were replaced by Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Chance Comanche in starting five, respectively.
Miller said Thursday that Allen should be “full-go” when Arizona plays USC and UCLA next week. He also said before Saturday’s game that Ristic has a “grade 1” ankle sprain, but did not offer much of a timetable, besides saying that his injury is not as severe as Jackson-Cartwright’s ankle sprain was.
Comanche had 13 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in Ristic’s absence.
No D without Kadeem
The Wildcats had trouble stopping dribble penetration while its interior defense offered little rim-protection. Washington scored 20 points on layups.
At one point in the second half Arizona even switched to a 2-3 zone, which says it all about what Miller thought about UA’s defense.
Not having Allen in the lineup was clearly a major blow in that regard, and Fultz — who Allen slowed down considerably the last time these two teams played — finished with 26 points on 16 shots.
Still on the Markk
If Markkanen’s 19-point, 11-rebound performance against Washington State wasn’t enough to convince you that his slump is over, surely his game against Washington did the trick.
The 7-footer was dominant from the start and had his best game as an interior scorer on Saturday.
Markkanen had 18 points in the first half, and all of them were scored inside the arc. And most of them were scored either around the basket or at the free throw line. Markkanen even scored on the low block, which has not been a common sight this season.
Markkanen was quieter in the second half, but he’d still wind up with his fifth double-double of the season. He scored 26 points without knocking down a single 3.
A scorer from Seattle
Heading into this game, Trier had failed to score in double figures in two straight games, and evidently a trip to his hometown was what he needed to get back on track.
The Seattle native set the tone for Arizona offensively as he splashed two early 3s to give Arizona an early lead and it was the start of an excellent game for him, especially in the second half.
As Markkanen’s scoring dwindled in the second half (at least compared to the first half), Trier’s surged. 13 of his 21 points were tallied in the final 20 minutes.
Jackson-Cartwright entered Saturday making nine of his last 14 3s and his hot streak continued against the Huskies.
Jackson-Cartwright finished with 11 points while shooting 3-of-5 from 3. He played a season-high 38 minutes and had four assists to three turnovers.
His performance has noticeably improved since being moved back into the starting lineup, and at some point you have to wonder if that is more than just a coincidence. But we’ll see if he stays there when Allen returns.
Bill Walton is legendary
Bill Walton is amazing pic.twitter.com/3fn71io2AO— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) February 19, 2017
Bill Walton will have none of your fake news stories pic.twitter.com/QbKxJFClwL— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) February 19, 2017
The Wildcats return to action Thursday when they host the USC Trojans before a marquee matchup against the UCLA Bruins on Saturday.
Thursday’s game is set to tip off at 8 p.m. MST and it will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire