The Cougars, without two of their starters, relied on Marcus Moore and the junior didn't let them down. Moore scored 35 points and kept the Cougars in the game early on with 17 of the team's 31 first half points.
"Moore just killed us," Lute Olson said of Moore's 8-of-12 night behind the arc.
The Cats were dominant on the boards, finishing with a +17 margin. Channing Frye pulled down 14, while Anderson grabbed 10 to go with 13 points.
"I had to step up on the boards," Frye said. "Every game someone different steps up and tonight it was me." Arizona continued its trend of first half struggles. The Cats could not build the momentum to put the Cougars away. Poor shooting, sloppy ball handling and a technical foul contributed to the first half woes.
Neither team could get their offense going in the early stages. A Moore fadeaway would get the Cougars on the board, but they would have to wait another 5:00 before they'd score another point. The Wildcats began even colder. The Wildcats missed their first seven shots, including a dunk, before Walton got the team on the board with a leaner in the paint.
Arizona didn't muster a whole lot of offense early, but scored just enough to keep ahead of Moore, who was the lone Cougar scoring threat in the early going. Moore scored eight of the Cougars first ten points, but Salim Stoudamire sandwiched a Channing Frye dunk between a pair of threes and the Wildcats had a 19-10 lead.
Arizona just couldn't get a double figure lead. Every time they had a chance to extend the lead something happened. Up 27-18, Gardner attempted a lob to the streaking Adams and the pass was too high for the freshman. Adams grasped the rim, drew the technical and the Cougars score four quick points to get back in the game.
Moore continued the hot shooting. He scored five straight to pull Wazzu within a point before Rick Anderson's tip capped the first half scoring.
The Wildcats broke the game open with a 15-0 run sparked by the play of Walton. The senior scored back to back baskets and followed them up with two straight highlight reel assists. First Walton went behind the back to a wide-open Anderson and then threw a bounce pass through traffic that allowed Frye to score an easy basket.
The Cats led by as many as 19 as Moore proved to be the only consistent threat for the Cougars. Washington State made it respectable as they chipped away at the lead late with the bulk of Arizona's contributors on the bench.
"The last 5:00 of the game I think we gave then a lot of open looks and allowed them back in the game," said Gardner.
Talk about this on the BASKETBALL MESSAGE BOARDS