Arizona continues to play with fire when it comes to starting slow on the road, but the ease with which it can make those early deficits disappear in a flash sure makes for great TV.
The Wildcats used an 18-1 run midway through the first half to turn a 14-point deficit into their seventh road victory of the season—third in seven days—in beating Washington 92-68 on Saturday afternoon.
It was the second time in three games that fourth-ranked UA (22-2, 12-1 Pac-12) trailed by double digits early only to lead at the half and win comfortably, following Monday’s 91-79 victory at ASU after being down 14-1. But unlike most previous instances, when turnovers were most to blame, this time it was a combination of poor shooting on its end and lights-out shooting from a very familiar Husky.
Ex-Wildcat guard Terrell Brown Jr. had 29 for Washington, with 24 coming in the first half. He made his first seven shots but finished 9 of 20 while the other Huskies (14-10, 8-5) combined to go 12 of 39 as UW shot 35.6 percent.
Arizona, on the other hand, shot 57.1 percent including a nice 69 percent in the second half, making 30 of 42 shots after a 6-of-21 start to the game.
Bennedict Mathurin led the Wildcats with 25 points, needing just 11 shots to do so, while Azuolas Tubelis had 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists and Dalen Terry added 12 points and seven assists.
The UA committed just nine turnovers, five coming after building a 28-point lead midway through the second half. The Wildcats turned it over a season-high 21 times against Washington in Tucson on Jan. 3, and they had given it away on more than 25 percent of possessions in the first two games on the road trip.
Arizona led 45-36 at halftime and got the margin up to 18 less than five minutes into the second half, and a 3-point play by Mathurin put the Wildcats up 63-43 with 12:39 left.
The second half became a dunk contest for Arizona, with five different players combing for eight flushes. The Wildcats finished with 11 dunks, more than double their season average of 5.1.
Brown’s seventh basket in as many tries put Washington up 25-11 with 10:39 left, forcing Tommy Lloyd to call timeout. Whatever he said stuck, as Arizona outscored the Huskies 24-4 over the next 7-plus minutes.
Tubelis had 11 of those points, including 10 during an 18-1 run that was capped by a Kerr Kriisa 3 to make it 33-28 with 3:50 left in the first half.
Washington went more than 10 minutes without a field goal, missing 10 straight shots at one point, before Brown got a layup with 28 seconds left. He was 8 of 12 from the field in the first half while the rest of the Huskies were 3 of 12.
Arizona, which ended the first half on a 30-9 run, made 10 of its final 13 shots.
The UA returns home Thursday to face last-place Oregon State, which it beat by 25 in Corvallis in early December.