Salim Stoudamire had a huge game, scoring 23-points and logging extended time at point guard. Jason Gardner played a season low 26 minutes, allowing Stoudamire to work at playing point guard, a position he will need to play more since Will Bynum's transfer and with Chris Rodgers still adjusting to the offense."
"That's something I've been wanting to do," Stoudamire said of playing point guard. "I think I can play the point."
Stoudamire was hot early from the outside, hitting three early three-point attempts. After the Huskies worked to limit his opportunities on the perimeter, Stoudamire worked on getting into the lane, which allowed him to get to the line where he made all eight free throw attempts.
"I've been working in the weight room real hard," Stoudamire said about his increased trips into the paint. "I feel I can take the hits."
Gardner and Channing Frye were the only other Wildcats in double figures. Gardner scored 11, while Frye added 10. Gardner led all Wildcats with nine assists, while Frye was tops on the boards with seven rebounds.
It was the Wildcats defense that keyed the win. The Cats limited the Huskies to just 41.4% shooting. They forced 22 turnovers, 14 of which were Wildcat steals. The Cats also blocked five shots, three by Frye who now has eight in his last two games.
"It just shows that we're capable of being a great defensive team," said Luke Walton.
Last year Doug Wrenn torched the Cats with 35 points, but he was held to just 11 as foul trouble limited him to just 21 minutes.
"When we had all five guys playing defense we made it hard for them to run their offense," said Lute Olson. "We did a good job of attacking the basketball and we made them turn over the ball quite a bit."
The Cats got off to another slow start, due in large part to the defensive pressure of Washington. With Lorenzo Romar shuttling players in and out, the athletic Huskies were able to put a lot of pressure on the Wildcats. The Cats had to work hard for their points and UW would match them on the other end.
"We just got to get ready to play," Rick Anderson said. "We're just not ready to play."
Doug Wrenn started off hot, scoring seven of the first eight points for the Huskies. The Cats kept pace, due mainly to the three-point shooting of Stoudamire. The Arizona sophomore hit a trio of early threes and a Dennis Latimore lob from Andre Iguodala gave the Cats a slim 17-15 advantage with 11:22 left in the half.
The Cats looked to break the game open, but despite being on the wrong end of a 10-1 run, the Huskies countered by scoring eight of the next ten points to keep the game within striking distance. Arizona used four steals in a five possession span to go on their run. After calling a timeout the Huskies went to the press and were within three before the Cats scored six quick ones before the half and took a 37-28 lead into the locker room.
Arizona was slowly pulling away and led 52-44 before their 12-2 run broke things open and sealed the fate of the Huskies. After a Nate Robinson bucket, the Huskies had to wait 5:31 for another field goal, a basket by Jeffrey Day.
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