Arizona improved to 20-2 with a 77-66 win over Washington. Here’s a closer look at what happened.
Player of the Game:
Kadeem Allen - The senior guard played what may have been the best defensive game of his career as he limited the potency of scoring machine Markelle Fultz. Allen also took over point guard duties for a majority of the game and did admirably, dishing out five assists. The guard finished with 14 points and sis rebounds in the victory as well.
* After trailing for all of the first half, Arizona had built some momentum going into halftime and cut Washington's lead to just two. The Huskies emerged from the locker room and immediately scored back-to-back baskets to push the lead back to six. Allen nailed a three-pointer over the zone splitting the deficit in half. Washington got two back on the other end, but Kobi Simmons hit a long ball before Allen added a free throw and a layup to give the Wildcats a 40-39 lead.
* As the clock ticked under ten minutes remaining in the game, Arizona hit one of its biggest shots of the night. Allen drove towards the basket and kicked to a wide open Lauri Markkanen for a three-pointer. It was the first deep ball for the big man of the game and it gave Arizona a 57-49 led and sparked a 9-0 run that saw Noah Dickerson foul out of the game.
* Washington didn't go quietly as the game wound down, but the Huskies just didn't have enough energy in the tank. With three minutes remaining, Matisse Thybulle hit a three-pointer and David Crisp added two free throws to cut Arizona's lead to seven. Markkanen and Crisp both traded three-pointers as the game ticked into their final minute.
* The game was sealed for good moments later after Allen pulled down a Washington miss and was fouled with 40 seconds remaining. The ensuing free throws put the Wildcats up 75-65 and put the game out of reach.
For most of the first half, it seemed like Washington was the only team that came to play. This has been a trend for the Wildcats so far this season, but it hasn't bit them yet. Playing down to the competition isn't something new in college basketball and certainly not to this team. You can look at the game and see that Arizona let a sub-500 team hang around all day at home or you can look at it as another win and another building block and learning moment moving forward. I'm sure the Wildcats will take the positivity of being alone in first place in the Pac-12 midway through the season.
Another point to note is that Arizona is still trying to figure itself out after getting Trier back in the rotation. At times in the win, the guard seemed timid and passed up a shot or a drive. Other times, he took over the game and drove down the lane with ease. The Wildcats are still working out the kinks, but there is progress being made and it is only a matter of time until the offense is firing on all cylinders again.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"All of a sudden to me we're a little bit ahead of ourselves," Miller said. "A lot of people saying great things and watching our effort level, our consistency, our togetherness. We weren't near this week where we were coming in."