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Arizona routs Washington State to complete road sweep

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NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday it was Jemarl Baker Jr. On Saturday it was Stone Gettings.

The Arizona Wildcats were going to have to lean heavily on program newcomers this season, but after that reliance fell mostly to the freshmen earlier in the year the transfers are starting to come into their own. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Gettings set season highs in points (19) and rebounds (12), logging a double-double in the first half to help the Wildcats overcome a slow start in a 66-49 win at Washington State on Saturday night in Pullman, Wash.

The victory completed a road sweep of the Washington schools for Arizona (15-6, 5-3 Pac-12) after it had started the season 0-5 on the road. The Wildcats are the first team in league play to pull off a road sweep in 2019-20.

Gettings’ performance came two days after he had 13 points in a 75-72 win at Washington, a game that saw Baker notch a Wildcat career-best 17 including the game-winning 3-pointer in the final minute. Combined with Max Hazzard’s 17-point outburst against Utah on Jan. 16, Arizona’s veteran offseason additions are starting to step up just as its youngsters are hitting the college freshman wall.

Take out Gettings’ 8-of-13 performance and the rest of Arizona shot only 34.5 percent, making just 4 of 18 3-pointers. Josh Green, Nico Mannion and Zeke Nnaji combined to go 13 of 35 from the field, though Mannion still finished with 14 points and Nnaji had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Green, however, had a huge impact on the game in how he defended WSU leading scorer CJ Elleby, who (according to the Pac-12 Network broadcast) Sean Miller had referred to as the best player in the conference. Elleby finished with seven points on 2-of-12 shooting and got banged up on multiple occasions as the Green and the rest of the Wildcats wouldn’t leave him alone.

As a result, Wazzu (13-10, 4-6) shot 37 percent and had its lowest scoring output of the season.

The Wildcats led 32-23 at halftime thanks to a 20-4 run after trailing by as many as seven in the first half, and unlike their recent road games they actually built on that lead coming out of the locker room. The margin grew to as much as 53-33 with 10:33 to go before Arizona experienced the kind of scoring slump its dealt with in nearly every game since starting 9-0.

WSU got as close as 55-43 with 5:32 remaining but Arizona then scored the next six points to put it away.

Helping Arizona’s cause was its care with the ball. The Wildcats turned it over just six times, tied for its fewest this season.

Arizona seemed like it had left its offense back in Seattle at the outset, missing eight of its first 10 shots and 13 of the first 17. That allowed Wazzu to build a 7-point lead before the Wildcats started to get things going by taking advantage of their size inside and their ability to score in transition.

Gettings led the charge with the former, grabbing nine rebounds—one more than the Cougars—in the first 7:48 and his first double double with Arizona before the first half was over. The latter was a group effort, with Mannion, Green and Christian Koloko all scoring on the fast break.

Koloko jammed one home after Dylan Smith lobbed a pass off the backboard during a 14-0 run to put Arizona up 22-15, then Mannion ran past the Wazzu defense for a dunk off a steal and an Ira Lee block fueled a Green drive to make it 28-19 with 1:42 left in the half.

The Wildcats return home to face the Los Angeles schools next week, hosting USC on Thursday night at McKale Center. Miller will be going for his 400th career victory.