Another ugly win

With the Bay Area schools in the rear view mirror and the LA schools on the horizon, it is understandable that the Wildcats were less than fired up to face the bottom feeding Washington schools. For the second straight game the Cats played a sloppy, lackluster ball game and came away with a double figure win. The Wildcats finished the first half strong and put Washington State away 85-68.

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The Cats were once again led by the multi-dimensional Luke Walton. Walton had another double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Will Bynum was held out with a cold, so walk-on Michael Schwertley received extra playing time. Schwertley scored six points in the first extended playing time of the year.

"Mike Schwertley gave us a huge lift off the bench with his defensive quickness," Lute Olson said. "Plus he was a factor on the boards. He was able to play both the three position and the two position."

Just as they did against Washington, the Cats played sloppy. With a talent surplus over Wazzu, the Cats could get away with a poor shooting percentage due to ill-advised shots. Wildcat players took bad shots and missed a number of easy buckets, but were still able to breeze to the win.

It was all Mike Bush early. The Cougar forward had the team's first 11 points and led them to an early 11-6 lead following his three-pointer from the corner.

This was Bush's second trip to Tucson. He tore the Wildcats appart while playing receiver for the Cougar football team and excelled for the hoop team as well. This time he didn't get the win, but he did lead all Cougars with  23 points.

After trailing early, the Wildcats stormed right back. Luke Walton scored four straight points and his turnaround tied it at 13. A moment later Jason Gardner hit the team's first three pointer in five attempts and they took a 16-13 lead.

The Cats buckled down on defense and held the Cougars scoreless for over 3:00 on their way to a 15-2 run. Salim Stoudamire nailed a three-pointer to put the Cats up 25-15 with 8:20 left.

The Wildcats had a great defensive effort, getting out on the Washington State players. The Wildcats were very active and were able to limit the Cougars offensive attack.

"When we were really after them we caused a lot of mistakes for them," Olson said. "When we're aggressive defensively a lot of good things happen."

The Cougars cut into the lead a little bit, but Walton's 10th point gave the Wildcats another 10 point lead. Walton took a page out of former Wildcat Jud Buechler's playbook and concluded a drive through the lane with a jumpstop lay-up.

The Cats pulled away over the final 4:30 of the half. Arizona outscored the Cougars 16-3 in that span, with Stoudamire being the key. He hit two threes, including a 22-footer and added an easy lay-in following an open-court steal. The Cats went to the locker room with a comfortable 44-23 lead.

"Salim Stoudamire really picked us up during that stretch in the first half," Olson said.

Washington State took advantage of poor Wildcat shooting to get back into the game early in the second half. The Cougars opened the second half with a 9-2 run to cut into the lead to 46-31.

The Cougars were able to get it within 11, but no closer. Back to back threes by Anderson and Gardner midway through the half helped boost the Cats lead to a comfortable margin. Luke Walton drained a 19-foot shot 4:20 to give the Cats a 20 point lead, 76-56.

The biggest ovation of the game came when little used reserve Jason Ranne nailed a three-pointer with just over a minute remaining to give the Cats their final score.

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