Granted, it did start slowly with the Huskies jumping out to an early five-point lead, but UA closed the gap much quicker in this affair and took control of the contest before halftime.
The Wildcats hope that is a sign of things to come. UW hasn't been a very good team since the early part of the Pac-12 schedule, but playing poor teams hasn't prevented the games from being more interesting than they really should be. Wednesday night's performance looked like a step in the right direction for Arizona and it was thanks to numerous factors.
Washington was lucky to hit the 30 percent mark for the game with its poor second half performance. The Huskies seemed to be completely overwhelmed after the break and Arizona pounced on the opportunity to open up a big lead in the process. UW actually did a great job of taking care of the ball, but the Wildcats defense forced so many bad shots out of the Huskies that it didn't matter.
UA's tough defensive effort led to eight blocked shots as a team, with five different players recording at least one swat. Whether it was from long range or close to the basket, the Wildcats complicated Washington's shooting throughout the contest.
Five players reached double figures in a game where UA probably needed balanced scoring. Two of Arizona's key contributors – Mark Lyons and Brandon Ashley – battled foul trouble throughout the game, but three other players were able to exceed to 10-point mark.
All four contributed in some fashion, including Gabe York. Center Kaleb Tarczewski continues to look more comfortable and was a big factor on the boards with eight rebounds. Ashley's output was what sparked the second unit, while Grant Jerrett blocked a pair of shots. Even York knocked down a three and played solid defense in his eight minutes of action.
Arizona passed the eye test on Wednesday. The Wildcats looked to be playing with much more assertiveness rather than playing down to their opponent. Washington battled hard early, but UA reacted quickly and stepped on the gas pedal midway through the first half. In the second half, when Arizona could have eased up, it continued to apply defensive pressure while playing intelligently on the offensive end of the floor.
The Wildcats allowed Washington to grab 13 offensive rebounds, but came up with just 10 second chance points despite the amount of additional opportunities. Other than that aspect, UA won the battle of the boards 39-30 and ultimately controlled the paint on both ends of the floor.
Arizona outscored UW 10-2 in fast break points. Washington was very ineffective in transition, while UA took advantage of its opportunities on the break.
The end of Nick Johnson's slump
The sophomore guard had been playing with a bit of hesitance in recent games and it kept him from reaching double figures for four straight contests. Johnson broke out of that funk on Wednesday, coming up with 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting.
He also added five assists, four rebounds and two blocks, getting back to the kind of all around play Wildcats' fans grew accustomed to earlier in the season. More performances like that from Johnson and Arizona may be able to get on a roll heading into the postseason.
Arizona defeated Washington on Wednesday. Read on for some news and notes on how the Wildcats got it…