Execution on the offensive end of the floor was an issue two nights ago for eighth-ranked Arizona. Solomon Hill took it upon himself to correct that problem from the start Saturday at Washington State.
The forward scored all 18 of his points in the first 20 minutes, and the Wildcats never let the Cougars pull within single digits in the second half of a 79-65 victory at Friel Court in Pullman, Wash.
After attempting just one shot in the first half at Washington, Hill was not hesitant to make his mark early against WSU. The senior connected on six 3-pointers - all in the first half - to set a new career high and finished 6 of 10 from distance.
Arizona (19-2, 7-2 Pac-12 Conference), which shot 52 percent in the second half, pulled into a tie for first place with No. 10 Oregon. The Ducks lost at California earlier in the day, and Arizona State had a chance to make it a three-way tie but lost at UW.
A D.J. Shelton 3-pointer pulled the Cougars within 10 at the 4:32 mark. But with a chance to cut the deficit to single digits, WSU (11-11, 2-7 Pac-12) was called for traveling on a fastbreak with 3:25 remaining.
Mark Lyons capitalized immediately with a 3-pointer. The UA guard then added a steal and transition layup to push the advantage to 69-54 and close the door on any comeback hopes for the Cougars, who trailed by as many as 19.
Lyons finished with a game-high 20 points, and the Wildcats' freshmen played a big part in the outcome as well. Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley combined for 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Grant Jerrett added four blocks off the bench.
Tarczewski's 10 points extended his streak of reaching double figures to three games.
Brock Motum paced the Cougars with 15 points and six rebounds before fouling out. Teammate Mike Ladd, who came into the contest averaging better than 18 points over his last five games, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with just two points.
The first half was Hill's showcase, and Arizona needed it after losing its sixth man midway through the half.
Leading 21-11 after one of Hill's long-range baskets, Kevin Parrom was then ejected for hitting DaVonte Lacy with an elbow underneath the basket with 10:42 left.
But the rest of the Wildcats were able to remain composed, and another Hill 3-pointer with 2:52 remaining gave UA its largest lead of the half, 37-20.
Then, for good measure, Hill exceeded his previous career high just before the half. The 6-6 wing banked in a three-quarters court heave from the WSU 3-point line to provide an exclamation mark on the first 20 minutes and send the 'Cats into the locker room with a 40-26 advantage.
Click Here to view this Link.Tracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor