Where would the Arizona Wildcats be if Jemarl Baker Jr. hadn’t been granted immediate eligibility?
One thing is for sure: he wouldn’t have been the reason they won their first road game of the 2019-20 season.
Baker’s 3-pointer with 42.6 seconds left put Arizona up for good in a 75-72 win at the Washington Huskies on Thursday night in Seattle.
Jemarl Baker had a career-high 17 points, including 14 in the second half to lead Arizona past Washington for its first road win.— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) January 31, 2020
This 3 proved to be the game-winner: pic.twitter.com/AV2IQt6RUb
The victory snaps a five-game road skid for the Wildcats (14-6, 4-3 Pac-12) and gives them a chance for their first road sweep since last January when they play at Washington State on Saturday night.
Baker, a transfer from Kentucky, scored 14 of his career-high 17 points in the second half to help Arizona rally from down nine after leading by as many as 10 in the first half. He was 4 of 7 from 3-point range and 5 of 8 overall while also making three critical free throws during a key UA run late in the game.
Nico Mannion had 16 points, five rebounds and five assists and Stone Gettings aded 13 as Arizona overcame early foul trouble and ridiculously bad 3-point defense for much of the night.
Washington (12-10, 2-7) hit 14 of 28 3s, making 9 of 17 in the second half including the first six after halftime. But the Huskies missed 4 of their last 5 from deep including all three in the final minute.
The Huskies were only 11 of 31 from inside the arc, with freshmen Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels combining to go 8 for 26 overall and 6 for 21 from 2.
A 36-33 halftime lead quickly evaporated for Arizona as Washington came out on fire from 3 in the second half. The Huskies made their first six perimeter shots, with many of them coinciding with eight straight Arizona misses during a 4:19 scoring drought.
Washington built a nine-point lead at 57-48 on a monster dunk by McDaniels but the freshman was called for taunting Ira Lee afterward, sparking an Arizona run of seven straight points to get the Wildcats within 57-55 with 11:53 left.
Back-to-back jumpers from the high post by Gettings, who was 5 of 9 from the field, got Arizona within 65-64 with 7:01 left, then Baker scored six straight points—three free throws after getting fouled on a perimeter shot and his third 3—gave Arizona a 70-69 lead with 4:17 remaining.
A 3 by RaeQuan Battle, who was 4 for 8 from outside, put Washington up 72-70 with 1:45 left but that was the Huskies’ final points.
Ira Lee hit 1 of 2 free throws with 1:22 left, then Baker’s shot put Arizona up 74-72. Dylan Smith made it 75-72 by going 1 for 3 on a pair of trips to the line, missing the front end on the second visit, but Washington’s Marcus Tsohonis airballed a 3 with 2.4 seconds to go.
Arizona led by as many as 10 in the first half but was only up three at halftime, that margin coming as a result of a 3-pointer by Max Hazzard with five seconds left. Hazzard hit two triples in the first half after being benched for all of the second half at ASU.
The Wildcats had to completely reshuffle their frontcourt rotation because of first-half foul trouble, with Zeke Nnaji playing only seven minutes and Gettings nine after each picked up two early fouls. Lee also had two first-half fouls off the bench, leading to Christian Koloko logging 10 minutes before halftime after playing only seven combined in the previous two games.
Nnaji had nine points on 4-of-11 shooting but added eight rebounds while Lee had three points and seven boards in 15 minutes.
The Wildcats were up 21-11 with 10:14 to go but only made four field goals the rest of the first half. They shot 38.7 percent overall and 38.5 percent from 3, making 5 of 12 triples in the second half.
The Wildcats finish up their 3-game road trip Saturday night at Washington State, which beat ASU on Wednesday.