Cats struggle, extend streak over WSU

Arizona has beaten Washington State 36 straight times, but in the latest installment of the win streak the Wildcats looked bad doing it. The Cats put in a lackluster effort, but pulled away late for the 75-62 win.

The Cats struggled on their road trip to the Evergreen State, but managed an ugly sweep against two Pac-10 second division squads.

The injury riddled Cougars played a scrappy game and the Cats responded with sloppy play. In addition to their first half shooting woes, the Cats had a number of defensive lapses and turned the ball over 21 times.

Jason Gardner paced the Cats with 19 points. The tenacious point guard did his best to keep Arizona in the game in the early stages, getting it done on both ends of the court. Gardner had four steals which led to a number of fast break opportunities. He also reached a milestone, passing Michael Dickerson to move into fifth place on the Wildcats' all-time scoring list.

Luke Walton struggled a bit from the field, but hit 8-of-9 free throws on his way to 12 points. He also ripped down six boards. Channing Frye added 15 points and three blocks. Salim Stoudamire scored 13 as well.

Milton Riley was the story for Washington State. Riley scored 19 points and grabbed eight boards. On the flip side, Thomas Kelati, was held scoreless for the Cougars.

Arizona played uninspired, sloppy basketball for most of the game and allowed the Cougars stay close. An outsider would never know it was a match-up between the No. 2 team in the country against a team mired in a 10 game losing streaka and now 0-11 in Pac-10 play. The Cats appeared to be mired in the same slump that plagued them in their overtime win over Washington two nights earlier.

Neither team could get much of an advantage in the early going. The teams traded leads nine times in the first half before the Cats went on an 8-0 run to end the half with a 34-27 lead. A number of shots were in-and-out as the Cats shot just poorly in the first half.

Channing Frye scored the Wildcats first six points of the game, but soon found himself on the bench with early foul trouble.

Things continued in this vein until about the 6:00 mark of the second half. Until that time neither squad scored more than four straight points. Riley paced the Cougars in the second half, aggressively attacking the basket.

The Cats started to pull away thanks in large part to their depth. The Cougars seemed to tire and their shots quit falling. The Cats kept attacking and did a very good job at getting to the line in the late stages. The Cats hit 18-of-21 from the charity stripe in the second half.

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