Arizona’s 57-53 win on the road against the Washington Huskies tonight was not the prettiest basketball we’ve ever seen, but it was a win on the Pac-12 road nonetheless, and an extremely important one to capitalize on Oregon and UCLAs’ bad losses against Stanford and USC last night.
Both Arizona and Washington were hard to watch. Arizona shot only 35% from the field (and 17% from distance) and Washington only 37% (and an awful 8% from distance), and both coughed up 17 messy turnovers–it was as if neither team had ever seen the speed of college basketball. But the Wildcats made up for their poor shooting by out-rebounding the Huskies 31-26 (10-7 offensively) and doing better at the free throw line. Arizona was 14 of 19 at the line, while the Huskies struggled, going only 10 for 17 and missing several key free throws down the stretch. With such bad shooting, the game came down to the winner of the battle in the paint, and the Wildcats pulled out the winner of that battle in the end–barely.
Without a doubt, the player of the night was Nick Johnson. Johnson had 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks, a man of many talents. Equally impressive, Johnson held Washington’s top scorer, C.J. Wilcox (who averages 19 points per game) to just 4-16 from the field and 1-5 from the three point line. Kaleb Tarczewski might have had his best game of the season with 10 points, 8 rebounds (3 offensive) and hitting 6 of 7 free throws. Slowly but surely, “Zeus” is picking up the pace of the college game down low.
With this important win, Arizona can take sole possession of second place in the Pac-12 if Arizona State loses to Washington State later tonight.