For the first time in three seasons, the Washington Huskies will be in Tucson, Arizona playing in a normal regular season game. The past two years, Arizona hosted a whiteout for the matchup in McKale Center.
It won’t be the first time that the Wildcats face the Huskies this season, and it might not be the last. Arizona visited Washington three weeks prior and came home with the road sweep of both schools. The Wildcats beat the Huskies 57-53 in a close game that came down to the wire.
Late in the game, Husky point guard Abdul Gaddy threw a poor alley oop that turned into a turnover and Aziz N’Diaye missed a desperation three-pointer as the Wildcats squeaked out with the win.
It was Washington’s fourth loss in a row at that point. It went on to beat Arizona State in another close game just a few days later, but then struggled mightily in the coming weeks. UW lost three straight games following the victory over ASU, falling to USC, UCLA, and Oregon before beating Oregon State on Saturday.
Arizona went on to win two more games after the Washington tussle. The Wildcats beat Washington State and Stanford before going on the only two-game losing streak of the season. They lost to California and Colorado, but rebounded on the road against Utah.
Gaddy has been running the point for Washington for the entire season. In the first meeting, the senior led the way with six assists. However, he also had six turnovers, including the poor alley opp pass late in the game. Gaddy added ten points himself, but it wasn’t enough for the Huskies to win the game.
Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox started next to Gaddy and led the Huskies with eleven points each. Suggs, a senior, was just three of nine shooting for the game, missing all four treys that he took. He was five of six from the free throw line, which was where a majority of his points came from. Suggs also had a block, but grabbed just a single rebound in the game.
Similarly, Wilcox had a poor shooting night as well. The junior made just four of sixteen shots, including a single three pointer. Wilcox was more productive in other areas of the game, grabbing four rebounds and stealing the ball twice. He also added a block and an assist.
Forward Shawn Kemp, Jr. was more efficient than the rest of his teammates, but was less effective. Kemp shot 60-percent from the field, but scored just seven points. He also was the victim of foul trouble throughout the game and played just twenty minutes. In the action that he saw, Kemp had just one rebound and a single block.
The last member of the Huskies’ starting lineup is N’Diaye. The seven-footer was a dominant force on the glass, as he went back and forth with Kaleb Tarczewski. N’Diaye grabbed a game-high eleven rebounds in the first meeting and will look to repeat that performance on Wednesday. He was the Husky that played the most minutes in the game and was the only player to have a double-double, as he also scored ten points.
The first Husky off the bench will likely be Andrew Andrews, who was arguably the hottest Washington player heading into the first game. Arizona found a way to stop him. Andrews scored just two points in 24 minutes of action. He was slowed for a majority of the game and was out of his element against the Wildcats. Andrews did have three assists, but it was countered by his three turnovers.
Desmond Simmons is another of the Huskies to keep an eye on. Like Andrews, he only had two points in the game at Washington, but is averaging five on the season while shooting nearly 36-percent from beyond the arc.
The dangerous thing about this game from Arizona’s standpoint is that Washington has nothing to lose at this point in the season. Sitting with a 6-7 conference record, the Huskies are going to be desperate.
The Wildcats have won plenty of games and are sitting pretty with a shot at the conference title. However, Arizona’s defense has struggled the past few games and an under performing Washington team has historically played tight games in the series. If the Wildcats don’t come out ready to play with a fierceness in their eyes, it could be the extra charge that the Huskies need to snag one away at McKale.