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January 31, 2013

No. 8 Arizona grinds out rare win at Washington

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Although far from pretty, Arizona finally figured out how to win in Seattle.

Nick Johnson scored 15 points and three other Wildcats added 10 to grind out a 57-53 win over Washington at Alaska Airlines Arena on Thursday night.

Despite shooting just 35.1 percent and turning the ball over 17 times, Arizona (18-2, 6-2 Pac-12 Conference) limited Washington to just one field goal in the final 4:35 to prevail.

The Huskies (12-9, 4-4 Pac-12) were equally as bad in taking care of the ball, leading to 20 points off turnovers for the Wildcats. UW, which lost its fourth consecutive game, made just 37.5 percent of its shots - including 1 of 11 from the 3-point line.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak in the Emerald City for Miller, and it was UA's first win at Washington since 2007 - a drought spanning five games.

With almost a full 14 minutes remaining, C.J. Wilcox, the Huskies' leading scorer, picked up a costly fourth foul on Johnson's transition dunk attempt. Trailing by four at that point, the Wildcats then scored the next seven points to take a 38-35 lead with 11:30 to play.

A game already marred by sloppy play would only continue. Neither team had cracked the 50s with five minutes remaining, but Washington used a 7-0 run capped by the lone 3-pointer from Wilcox to take a 48-46 lead with 4:36 left.

Trailing 51-50, Johnson put UA ahead for good with a jump shot with 2:01 to play. Aziz N'Diaye missed a pair of free throws at the 1:36 mark that would have given the Dawgs the lead, and Solomon Hill added a deep jump shot to push the advantage with 54-51 on the next trip down the floor.

With 28 seconds to play, Abdul Gaddy turned the ball over with Washington down 55-53, and Johnson iced the game at the free-throw line.

Wilcox and Scott Suggs paced the Huskies with 11 points apiece, but Wilcox missed 12 of his 16 shot attempts.

Coming into the contest, Miller said he wanted to limit the turnovers and the UW second-chance points. His team did not get the memo.

Washington jumped out to 16-5 lead thanks to a few transition baskets and putbacks, while Arizona had a start reminiscent of the sluggish performance last week against UCLA.

From there, however, the Huskies would miss their next seven shots. The Wildcats countered with a 16-6 run to take a brief one-point lead on Johnson's basket with 4:35 to play in the half.

But the 'Cats produced just two points for the remainder of the half, and on the final possession failed to attempt a shot to cap a sloppy first 20 minutes for both sides. The teams combined for 22 turnovers - including 12 by Arizona - and together made less than 40 percent of its shots.

The Wildcats trailed at the half, 28-23.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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