SEATTLE (AP) — This was the test Sean Miller wanted Arizona to face, to see how the Wildcats would handle a loss and then be forced to go on the road to try and correct their mistakes.
The Wildcats’ response was impressive after a long week of thinking about last weekend’s upset loss to Arizona State.
“Long day, long hour, long ride back home. Everything is long when you lose,” Arizona’s Stanley Johnson said.
Johnson scored 20 points to lead five Arizona players in double figures, and the seventh-ranked Wildcats rebounded to rout Washington 86-62 on Friday night.
Coming off the stunning setback, the Wildcats (21-3, 9-2 Pac-12) used hot shooting and a huge first-half run to pull away from the undermanned Huskies. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 17 points, Gabe York scored 13 off the bench and T.J. McConnell orchestrated it all with 10 points and 10 assists, his first double-double of the season.
When the Wildcats faltered earlier in the season, they returned to the comfort of home to rediscover their winning ways. This was a different challenge and in a venue that had proved problematic for the Wildcats in the past.
“We pretty much said no team is going to beat us the way Arizona State did,” McConnell said. “We’re going to play hard and let the chips fall where they may. If we play hard and somebody beats us, it wasn’t our night then.”
Washington (14-10, 3-9) lost its sixth straight game, the longest losing streak of Lorenzo Romar’s tenure as the Huskies’ head coach. Washington’s last win came Jan. 22 at Colorado, before center Robert Upshaw was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.
Andrew Andrews led the Huskies with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Shawn Kemp Jr. added 13 as Washington’s 11-0 start to the season became even more of a fleeting memory.
“There’s not too many minutes in the day that I’m not thinking about this and how to right this ship to get it right,” Romar said.
The Wildcats went on a 21-2 run midway through the first half, turning a 10-9 lead into a 20-point advantage. Arizona took advantage of Washington’s limited front court size and shot 60 percent for most of the half. Whether it was Hollis-Jefferson, Johnson or McConnell, the Wildcats had their way with nearly everything they ran on the offensive end.
Equally impressive was Arizona’s defense. Even when Washington went with a five-guard lineup, Arizona’s defense made it difficult to get open shots on the perimeter. Kemp shot 4 of 6 and had 11 points in the first half, but his teammates were a combined 5-of-23 shooting.
About the only moment that went wrong for Arizona was Hollis-Jefferson about to dunk on an uncontested breakaway and having his feet slip out from underneath him alone under the basket.
The 43 first-half points were the most for Arizona since scoring 45 in its blowout win over Arizona State on Jan. 4.
“Had a couple good days leading up to being up here and I thought it was reflective in the first half,” Miller said.
MAKING A RUN
Washington put together one run midway through the second half, cutting Arizona’s 19-point lead to 11. Andrews hit consecutive 3s in transition and Washington was within 65-54 with 8:16 left, the closest the Huskies had been since 22-11.
The hope Washington would make a challenge was short-lived. Hollis-Jefferson flashed open for a dunk, McConnell hit a pair of free throws and Elliott Pitts broke open for a layup and quickly the Wildcats were back ahead by 17.
“We had that going for us a little bit and then they made an adjustment,” Andrews said.
Arizona: The Wildcats have now held 67 of their past 69 opponents under 80 points. Washington was the 21st team held under 70 this season. Arizona State and Stanford this season are the only two teams to top 80 points against the Wildcats.
Washington: The Huskies had lost five straight under Romar twice previously. Washington lost five straight in the 2002-03 season, Romar’s first, and in the 2003-04 season before rallying to make the NCAA tournament.
Arizona: at Washington State on Sunday.
Washington: host Arizona State on Sunday.
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