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February 16, 2012

Lavender, 'Cats stay hot to win fifth straight



Arizona head coach Sean Miller was spot-on when he called this week's games in Washington "one of the more difficult trips."

The Wildcats survived a scare and foul trouble Thursday night to edge Washington State, 76-72, in Pullman and win their season-high fifth straight game.

Tied at 69, UA freshman guard Josiah Turner whipped a one-handed bullet pass to a cutting Jesse Perry, who absorbed the contact for a layup and traditional three-point play with 38 seconds to play.

Wildcats senior guards Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender - who helped bust the Cougars' zone defense with stellar 3-point shooting - iced the game at the free-throw line.

UA (19-8, 10-4 Pac-12 Conference) was led by Lavender's 17 points off the bench on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Lavender has now connected on nine of his last 12 3-pointers over the team's last two games.

Fogg added an unlikely double-double with 16 points and a career-high 10 rebounds for a team that had Perry and backup center Angelo Chol pick up four fouls apiece early in the second half.

Perry chipped in 14 points and Solomon Hill contributed 11 for the 'Cats, who moved to within one-half game of conference leaders California and Washington - which were both in action tonight.

WSU (13-13, 5-9 Pac-12) was paced by Brock Motum's 28 points but the 6-10 junior missed six straight free throws late in the game - including two of three with the Cougars trailing by three after Perry's go-ahead three-point play.

Junior guard Reggie Moore added 21 points for WSU, which shot 50 percent (25 of 50) but lost for the fifth time in its last seven games.

UA finished the game shooting 52 percent (26 of 50) and converted 9 of 19 3-pointers.

Both teams shot the ball well to start, combining to hit 28 of 57 shots as Arizona took a 40-39 lead into the break.

The Cougars started the game on a 9-1 run, but the 'Cats combated the zone defense by pushing the ball in transition and a Fogg 3-pointer tied the game at 11 with 13:17 remaining in the half.

WSU then took a seven-point advantage with 9:25 to play but UA answered with three consecutive 3-pointers as part of an 11-3 run.

The Wildcats will now head to Seattle for a pivotal Saturday afternoon contest against Washington, which defeated UA in a 69-67 thriller at McKale Center on Jan. 28. Huskies freshman Tony Wroten blocked Turner's potential game-tying layup as time expired.

Tipoff is scheduled for noon PST.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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