Washington (9-5) at (1) Arizona (14-0)
01/04/2014 8:02 AM
01/04/2014 8:07 AM
GAME NOTES: The top-ranked Arizona Wildcats close out a four-game homestand on Saturday afternoon, as they welcome the Washington Huskies to the McKale Center for a Pac-12 showdown.
Lorenzo Romar's Huskies are on a bit of a roll, winning three straight games to move to 9-5 on the season. Washington opened up Pac-12 play on Thursday in Tempe and dispatched the Arizona State Sun Devils, 76-65.
Sean Miller's Wildcats have run the table thus far and moved to 14-0 with a 60-25 blasting of Washington State in Thursday's conference opener at the McKale Center. Arizona, one of just eight unbeatens left in the country, has earned its top billing this season with marquee wins over San Diego State, Duke and Michigan, all outside of Tucson.
Arizona has won two straight and six of the last seven meetings in this series and holds a 46-28 advantage all-time against Washington. The Wildcats are 28-7 against the Huskies in Tucson.
Washington jumped all over ASU early on, taking a 40-23 lead into halftime and held the Sun Devils to their lowest scoring output in a first half this season. The Huskies were able to hold on for the win as five players notched double figures in scoring. C.J. Wilcox led the way with 17 points. Andrew Andrews added 14 points to the cause, while Nigel Williams-Goss (12 pts), Perris Blackwell (10 pts) and Darin Johnson (10 pts) all made their presence felt as well.
The Huskies are starting to heat up and could be a tough out in the Pac-12 thanks to their scoring depth. The team is putting up 80.3 ppg on a healthy .451 shooting, while also doing the work on the boards with a +4.2 rebounding margin. The scoring pool runs deep, led by Wilcox, who is averaging a hefty 20.2 ppg, thanks in large part to his .410 accuracy from behind the arc (43- of-105). Andrews is next in line at 13.1 ppg, followed by Williams-Goss and Blackwell at 12.6 and 11.8 ppg, respectively. Williams-Goss is just a freshman, but has been impressive as both a scorer and distributor (team-high 4.3 apg).
Every offensive juggernaut plans on running up the score, but very few can actually achieve that against a team as defensively strong as the Wildcats. Arizona has run roughshod over the competition this season, thanks in large part to its defensive tenacity. UA is limiting opponents to a meager 54.4 ppg and holding them well under 40 percent shooting overall (.362) and a mere .288 from behind the arc. In addition, the Wildcats enjoy a huge +12.6 rebounding margin. At the offensive end, the team has several options with four of the five starters averaging double figures in scoring. Guard Nick Johnson paces the team with 15.4 ppg. Balance comes up front in the form of forwards Brandon Ashley (12.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Aaron Gordon (12.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and center Kaleb Tarczewski (10.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg).
Arizona was at its defensive best against Washington State, setting a new school record for fewest points allowed at home in the rout of the Cougars on Thursday. The 25 points for WSU were its fewest since 1938. The Wildcats weren't all that effective offensively, but didn't need to be, jumping out to a 21-2 lead and going into the half up 28-7. Arizona held Washington State to a mere nine made field goals the entire game and an ugly 20 percent shooting (9-of-45), while owning the boards to the tune of a 42-28 rebounding advantage. Tarczewski led Arizona in the scoring column with 11 points, while the freshman Gordon grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
Arizona can win games at either end of the floor. Washington has the offensive firepower to hang with most teams, but the Wildcats may be in a class all by themselves in the Pac-12.
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