Arizona No.9 defeats Washington after extended hiatus

Ben Mathurin scored 27 points, Christian Koloko added 22 points and 10 rebounds, and the No.9 Arizona came back from an extended break to beat Washington 95-79 on Monday night.

The Wildcats (12-1, 2-0 Pac-12) moved the ball well offensively in their first game in 16 days, shooting 55% and finishing with 28 assists on 33 shots taken.

Kerr Kriisa finished with 21 points and Arizona was 12 for 25 of 3 for their best start since the 2015-16 season opener 13-1.

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The Wildcats were a little fragile dealing with the ball for the second straight game, with 21 turnovers that Washington converted to 25 points and allowed them to hang around despite struggling around the perimeter.

Washington (5-6, 0-1) had played two games since November 27 due to COVID-19 concerns before Monday, including its own hiatus that led to a postponement of a December 2 game in Arizona.

Terrell Brown Jr. had a great night against his former team, scoring 28 points in the arena where he played last season. Emmitt Matthews Jr. added 16 points, but the rest of the Huskies struggled to find the mark, finishing 7 for 24 on the 3-point arc.

Arizona hadn’t played since its first loss of the season, 77-73 at No.18 to Tennessee on Dec. 18. The Wildcats were supposed to play No. 7 in USC and No. 5 in UCLA last week, but those have been postponed due to COVID-19 issues with both programs.

Arizona goalie Dalen Terry (4) shoots a three-point basket against Washington in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tucson, Ariz on Monday, Jan.3, 2022.
(Rebecca Sasnett / Arizona Daily Star via AP)

Free time didn’t seem to bother the nation’s top-rated team shooting form. Arizona had a good offensive flow early on, coming out in transition and working the ball around the Washington area for open looks. The Wildcats used a 13-0 run to move up 24-10 and continued to shoot, including Mathurin’s windmill dunk in transition.

Arizona shot 17 of 28 and scored eight 3-pointers in the first half.

The only fragile area: turnarounds. The Wildcats had 17 in the loss to Tennessee, in large part due to relentless pressure from the Flights.

The 10 first-half turnovers against Washington were mostly self-inflicted, many on passes in crowded areas. The Huskies scored 17 points on the turnovers to stay 49-41 at halftime.

Arizona continued to throw reckless passes that were easily picked up and didn’t shoot as well in the second half, allowing Washington to linger. Matthews hit a 3-point corner on an offensive rebound to bring the Huskies down to 72-65, but that was the closest they’d get.

Koloko dunked Matthews for a three-pointer play on Mathurin’s alley-oop, then Mathurin scored 85-72 with a 3-point wing with 4.5 minutes remaining.

BIG PICTURE

Washington created some problems for the Wildcats with quick hands on defense, but had another half-hearted shooting performance in a season that was filled with them.

Arizona was superb in handing the ball over to their shooters. The Wildcats just need to stop giving the ball to the other team.

FOLLOWING

Washington: Play Utah on Thursday.

Arizona: At its rival Arizona State on Saturday.


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