After a slumping a bit over the last couple weeks, the Arizona Wildcats clicked against the Washington Huskies at McKale Center last night and demonstrated what they look like when giving a top 10 performance. Though Arizona’s convincing 70-52 victory comes against a Washington team that has lost 8 of its last 10 games, their play is a positive sign in the right direction–especially at this point in the season–if they can continue it with any sort of consistency from here on out.
The game remained close throughout the first half and Arizona led by 8 points going into the second. That’s when things got ugly for Washington though, as the Wildcats proceeded to go on a 16-4 run and never allow the Huskies to get close after that. While Arizona was lights out, shooting 47% from the floor (40% from three point range and over 60% in the second half), they limited Washington to a mere 31% from the floor and 9% from distance. Arizona outsized a fairly big Washington team too, out-rebounding them 39-30 and out-blocking them 8-1.
One might also think that Sean Miller and his team read my column on Saturday as well, as Arizona did a few things that they’ve needed to improve on all year. Instead of going with Jordin Mayes, Sean Miller sent Gabe York in as the first guard off the bench. Kaleb Tarczewski looked much more confident under the basket and oftentimes went straight to it off the pass rather than dribble, pump fake or otherwise hesitate before shooting. He was 4 for 6 with 10 points and 8 rebounds, and his improvement might be in part based on the extra motivation he’s being given due to the extra minutes Angelo Chol has been seeing lately. Brandon Ashley played more like his earlier season self, going 3 for 5 with 10 points and 5 rebounds. As was clearly illustrated last night, Arizona’s guard production flourishes when their big men get it done down low as well.
As a result, five Arizona players scored in double digits last night: Hill, Tarczewski, Lyons, Johnson and Ashley. Hill was especially impressive, bringing in 19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.
With the victory, Arizona remains half a game behind Oregon, who plays Cal tonight. Next, the Wildcats face Washington State on Saturday at 1pm (Arizona time).