PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Arizona jumped all over Washington State and the Cougars couldn’t recover.
Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kaleb Tarczewski each scored 17 points as Arizona routed Washington State 86-59 on Sunday night.
T.J. McConnell added 14 points for Arizona (22-3, 10-2 Pacific 12), which plays WSU only once this season. The Wildcats led by 34 points after the first half, but were outscored by the Cougars in the second.
“We had a tremendous first half,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We did what we needed to do in the second half. We weren’t going to beat them by 30 in the second half.”
Dexter Kernich-Drew scored 20 points and DaVonte Lacy scored 18 for Washington State (11-14, 5-8), which was coming off a win over Arizona State on Thursday. The Cougars were done in by woeful shooting in the first half.
“Our first half defensive performance says a lot about our defense,” Miller said.
Ashley and Tarczewski “together had one of their best nights,” Miller said. “They really set the tone.”
Hollis-Jefferson, meanwhile, added 10 rebounds and made 8 of 9 from the field.
McConnell said it was difficult to maintain intensity when the Wildcats were up by 30 points.
“They started hitting shots in the second half that they did not make in the first,” McConnell said. “We were giving them open shots.”
Washington State coach Ernie Kent said Arizona’s talent and skill level were too much.
“We weren’t making shots. We couldn’t keep up with the pace of the game,” Kent said. “We couldn’t handle what they came at us with.”
Washington State outscored the Wildcats 40-33 in the second half, with Kernich-Drew scoring 17 of his points in the final 20 minutes.
“Dexter Kernich-Drew played with tremendous confidence,” Kent said.
Arizona has won two straight after being upset by Arizona State. Arizona won the rebound battle 44-23 and outscored the Cougars in the paint 46-12.
The Wildcats came out strong in the first half and took control early.
McConnell had five points as the Wildcats jumped to an 18-8 lead over the cold-shooting Cougars.
Consecutive dunks by Ashley put Arizona up 26-12 at the midpoint of the first. Washington State made only 6 of 17 shots to open the game, and then got worse.
Hollis-Jefferson had six points and Tarczewski scored and hit three free throws during a 15-0 run that put Arizona ahead 41-13. Washington State was scoreless for more than six minutes and its shooting percentage dropped into the 20s.
Washington State went more than eight minutes without a field goal before Que Johnson hit a short jumper to cut Arizona’s lead to 44-16. But Ashley, who had 13 points in the first, replied with a basket immediately to push Arizona’s lead to 30 points.
Arizona led 53-19 at halftime, after shooting 60 percent and out-rebounding the Cougars 30-9.
Washington State shot just 27 percent in the first half, and the shooting woes were universal as they made just 1 of 11 3-pointers and 2 of 6 free throws.
Both teams shot well in the second half.
Lacy made his first two field goals of the game to open the second half, but Arizona kept scoring. McConnell hit a 3-pointer and followed with a steal and layup for a 61-25 lead.
Kernich-Drew sank four 3-pointers for WSU early in the second half, but the Cougars still trailed by 28. Arizona immediately pushed its lead back over 30, and the Cougars could not reduce the margin much despite shooting 63.6 percent in the second half. Arizona shot 53.8 percent in the second half.
Both teams strugged at the free throw line, with Arizona making 10 of 20 and WSU making 8 of 20.
Arizona had 15 points off turnovers, to just three for the Cougars.
Arizona: Arizona leads the all-time series 59-16, and has won eight in a row over the Cougars … The Wildcats allow just 59.3 points per game … Arizona ranks 10th nationally in shooting percentage at 49.3 percent … Stanley Johnson leads Pac-12 freshmen in scoring at 14.8 ppg.
Washington State: Under new coach Ernie Kent, the Cougars have already surpassed last year’s totals of three Pac-12 wins and 10 overall wins … Arizona beat the Cougars 60-25 in Tucson last season … Washington State is 7-125 all-time against Top 10 opponents.
Arizona: hosts Southern California on Thursday.
Washington State: hosts Washington on Sunday
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