Reports of Arizona’s offensive demise were greatly exaggerated. And the recently discovered defensive prowess decided to stick around for most of the party.
The Wildcats played their most complete game in Pac-12 play, aided by an incredibly dominant second half, in winning 95-72 at Washington on Saturday afternoon. Arizona (19-3, 8-3 Pac-12) picked up its first road sweep of the season and moved within a half-game of first-place UCLA.
Azuolas Tubelis had 25 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth-straight double-double and seventh in the last eight games, Oumar Ballo rebounded from a 1-point effort at Washington State on Thursday to make all nine of his field goal attempts and score 21, and Kerr Kriisa made 6 of 11 3-pointers for 18 points with six assists (and only one turnover).
Arizona shot 52.3 percent, hitting better than 50 percent in both halves for the seventh time this season and first since Jan. 12 at Oregon State. It was 11 of 26 from 3, with Courtney Ramey making four in the second half to finish with 14 points.
Washington (13-10, 5-7) shot 43.5 percent and was 8 of 29 from 3, cooling off massively after a 9-of-13 start from the field.
Up 38-36 at the half, thanks to a late 9-2 run, Arizona outscored the Huskies 57-36 over the final 20 minutes and had runs of 14-0 and 15-0. The Wildcats outrebounded UW 24-9 in the second half.
Washington took its last lead at 44-42 before Kriisa and Ramey hit back-to-back threes to trigger a 19-1 run for a 61-45 lead with 11:28 left.
Kriisa hit three triples in that run, but also picked up his fourth foul and sat with 12:42 left. Arizona stayed hot, though, making eight consecutive shots at one point to maintain the double-digit lead, and when Kriisa returned the offense kept clicking to the tune of a 15-0 run to make it 88-63 with 2:54 remaining.
Washington was almost automatic early, making nine of its first 13 shots including three 3s in a 100-second span, building a 23-14 lead with 12:38 left in the first half . That’s when Arizona’s defense finally showed up, holding the Huskies scoreless for more than five minutes while chipping away at the deficit.
A lob from Tubelis to Ballo tied it at 23, but Kriisa picked up his second foul and hit the bench for a few minutes that coincided with UW going on a 7-2 run and Tommy Lloyd calling timeout before putting Kriisa back in.
UW held the lead until Arizona went on a 9-0 run to go up four with 32 seconds before halftime.
The Wildcats return home to face the Oregon schools next weekend, beginning with a Thursday night matchup with Oregon. The Ducks (12-9, 6-4) crushed Arizona by 19 in Eugene two weeks ago.