A closer look: Washington State

Arizona defeated Washington State on Saturday. Read on for a closer analysis of that game and Arizona moving forward.

After completing a sweep of the Washington schools on Saturday with a victory over lowly Washington State, the Arizona Wildcats were able to move into a tie with Oregon for first place in the Pac-12. Arizona, which has been plagued with numerous problems in recent weeks, was able to put together an impressive all-around performance from start to finish and come away with a double-digit victory.

Certain things appear to be falling into place for Arizona, which has struggled to reach its potential throughout the course of the conference schedule.

While UA has fallen into the trap of playing down to the level of its lesser competition at time this season, the Wildcats didn't let that occur against Washington State as several key factors came into play on Saturday that permitted them to run away with the game.

The shooting performance of Kevin Parrom

The senior swingman finished the contest with a team-high 19 points and produced most of his scoring from long range. Parrom knocked down five out of six attempts from beyond the arc and scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half. His effort over the final 20 minutes of play was what allowed UA to counter Wazzu's late charge.

Crisp passing

The Wildcats' 19 assists were the most they accumulated in a game since the beginning of conference play and are something Arizona hopes to build upon going forward. The biggest offensive challenges that UA has met this season have been moving the ball both consistently and effectively, but the Wildcats were able to accomplish both on Saturday afternoon.

They were also able to create an offensive flow while turning the ball over just 11 times, making sure to get everyone involved while taking care of possession.

Rebounding edge

Controlling the paint was another reason UA won on Saturday and it also led to a big advantage on the boards in favor of the Wildcats. Arizona out-rebounded Washington State 30-23, as the Wildcats were able to keep Wazzu from finding too much success on the offensive glass.

Mark Lyons

Lyons seemed to play with a little more control against the Cougars and it led to a well-rounded performance. The senior was Arizona's second leading scorer for the game with 14 points and he was able to facilitate effectively by dishing out four assists while committing just one turnover.

Lyons continued to take the three-point shot, but his distribution was just as important to the victory as his scoring was. Lyons may not ever be considered a true point guard given his style of play, but what he displayed on Saturday is exactly what Arizona will need for a deep tournament run in late March.

Production of freshmen

There has been gradual improvement from the trio of freshman big men in recent weeks and they put together another strong collective performance against Washington State. Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett combined to shoot 69.2 percent from the floor against the Cougars to finish with 25 points between them.

Tarczewski's level of comfort near the basket continues to progress and his improvement showed on Saturday as he displayed a variety of post moves.

Brandon Ashley got off to a fast start and, while he was relatively quiet down the stretch, he played well in the first half while avoiding numerous mistakes.

The third freshman big man, Grant Jerrett, continues to show his shooting range as he finished Saturday 2-for-3 from the floor (all from beyond the arc). Over his previous five games, Jerrett has connected on six out of nine attempts from three-point range.

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