Player of the Game: Luke Walton

Luke Walton returned from a three-game layoff and helped lead Arizona to a 92-85 win over Washington State. He showed no ill-effects from his Achilles' tendon injury and for his play, he earns Cat Tracks Player of the Game honors.

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So, are you convinced the Cats missed Luke Walton yet? First there was the obvious, the 10-point loss to Oregon and the difficult wins over Oregon State and Valparaiso. Then there are the less obvious aspects of Walton's game that were missed. The high post passing, the ability to find the open spaces in zones and the tough rebounds were all lacking in his absence.

Walton came back strong in the Cats 92-85 win against Washington State. His passing, defense and rebounding had been missed and they were back with his return. Even more surprising was his added threat from the outside. Walton knocked down two three pointers in the contest on his way to 15 points.

The first half saw Walton start and finish the half with three pointers. In between he had a nice post-up bucket and a put-back. His second three allowed the Wildcats to regain the lead after the Cats fell behind 40-39.

Obviously his passing was a key and a Walton pass was the highlight of the contest. Late in the first half he lofted an alley-oop pass to Will Bynum and the 5-11 guard seemed to levitate to grab the pass and slam home the dunk.

Walton's passing led the way in the second half as well. During the Wildcats' 9-0 run to open the Walton's deft passing was critical. First he threaded a pass through a double team to find a cutting Isaiah Fox under the basket. Then he hit Salim Stoudamire racing to the hoop for an easy dunk.

Late in the game, Walton continued to lead the Cats. With the Cougars coming back Walton nailed a turn-around jumper on the baseline to extend the Cats' lead to eight points. On the next possession he dished to Jason Gardner down low who gave the Cats a 79-69 lead.

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