The Arizona Wildcats may be the No. 1-ranked team in the country but they quickly found out that winning Pac-12 games won’t be easy this season.
Even at home.
Washington, losers of five nonconference games, led by two points at halftime and scared the Wildcats into the final minutes before the Wildcats pulled out a 71-62 win today at McKale Center
Nick Johnson led UA with 24 points, while Aaron Gordon added 18 points and 10 rebounds. C.J. Wilcox had 20 for Washington,while Husky big man Perris Blackwell had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Wildcats held the Huskies to 30.3-percent shooting after halftime after allowing them to shoot 55.6 percent in the first half, when UW also outrebounded UA 17-12.
The win gave Arizona its second best start in school history at 15-0, surpassing the 14-0 mark that they took into a loss at Oregon last season. They are 2-0 in Pac-12 play, entering a trip to UCLA and USC next week.
Washington dropped to 9-6 and 1-1.
The Wildcats took the lead for good on a 9-3 run midway through the second half that gave them a 60-54 lead with 5:44 to go.
Washington closed within 60-58 but Johnson dunked and Aaron Gordon tioped in another basket to put the Wildcats up by six, 64-58, heading into the final two minutes. Johnson then hit 4 of 4 free throws down the stretch.
After Washington took a 35-33 halftime lead the Huskies went up by six, 42-36 after a three-point-play by Nigel Williams-Goss with 16:33, prompting UA coach Sean Miller to call a full timeout.
Arizona pulled within 44-42 on a three-pointer by Gabe York with 15:28 to go but the Huskies kept the lead for over the first nine minutes of the second half before UA made its run.
In the first half, Washington shot 55.6 percent from the field and outrebounded Arizona 17-12 to take their two-point halftime edge.
Wilcox led the Huskies with 10 points in the first half while Johnson had 11 for Arizona. The Wildcats shot just 39.3 percent from the field and were only 1 of 6 from three-point range.
It was the fifth time this season that the unbeaten Wildcats have headed into halftime trailing their opponent. Drexel led them 29-20 in UA's 66-62 win on Nov. 29, Duke led 36-33 in UA's 72-66 win on Nov. 19, UNLV led 42-39 in a 63-58 UA win on Dec. 7 and Michigan led 37-28 on Dec. 14 before the Wildcats pulled out a 72-70 win.
Arizona led 27-23 late in the first half but Washington went on a 8-2 run to go up 31-29 with 2:30 to go, getting two shots from Shawn Kemp Jr. and another from Wilcox.
The Huskies and Wildcats started trading leads midway through the first half in a spirited uptempo game. But through the first 12 minutes, Washington was outrebounding Arizona 11-8 and had two three-pointers from Wilcox, though the Huskies had six turnovers, leading to six UA points.
The Wildcats led by up to six points while Washington led by up to five.
Arizona took its first lead, 16-15, on a dunk by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson but Shawn Kemp Jr silences standing crowd by drawing foul on his layup. UW leads 17-16 with 11:40.
Arizona’s shooting improved to 6 of 12 at that point but four of its six baskets were dunks. Another was a banked-in 10-foot jumper by Aaron Gordon.
The Huskies took an early lead of 11-5 five minutes into the game while UA had two turnovers and was 3 of 8 from the field.