PULLMAN, Wash. – Before his senior year began, Solomon Hill said he was looking forward to every game he would play for the Arizona Wildcats this season.
Apparently, that includes the normally unpopular trip to remote Washington State.
Hill threw in six three pointers in the first half – including a three-quarter-court bomb to end the first half – while Arizona went on to beat WSU 79-65.
Hill’s three-point shooting overshadowed otherwise poor shooting by the Wildcats in the first half and the early ejection of forward Kevin Parrom, who was tossed after officials ruled he committed a “flagrant two” foul by hitting WSU’s DaVonte Lacy in the head with an elbow.
The Wildcats took a 40-26 halftime lead and mostly cruised in the second half. While WSU made a few pushes to get back in the game, UA guard Mark Lyons all but put an end to it when he hit a three-pointer with 3:10 left to give UA a 69-56 lead, then came back for a layup after a WSU turnover to put the Wildcats up by 15.
Coupled with losses by Oregon and ASU earlier Saturday, the win moved Arizona into a first-place tie with the Ducks at 7-2 at the midway mark in the conference season. The Wildcats, however, do not get a chance to play Oregon in the second half after losing to them 70-66 in Eugene on Jan. 10.
Arizona is now 19-2 overall, while WSU dropped to 11-11 and 2-7.
Lyons led the Wildcats in scoring with 20 points while Hill collected all of his 18 in the first half off the three-pointers. In the second half, Hill took only two shots and did not score.
After Parrom’s ejection with 10:43 left in the first half, Lacy made 1 of 2 free throws and the Wildcats led 21-12 but Arizona kept a comfortable lead the rest of the half even before Hill threw up his final bomb from near the WSU three point line.
Parrom’s ejection was the first for Arizona since the Wildcats had a string of ejections in three straight Thursday games in January 2012: Hill was tossed for hitting Utah’s Cedric Martin in the head – also a flagrant 2 foul – while Kyryl Natyazhko was ejected for leaving the bench during a UA-Oregon State scuffle, and Josiah Turner was ejected for committing two technical fouls against Motum and the Cougars.
Parrom’s blow was ruled to have been a flagrant two, which is defined by the NCAA to include excessive elbow swings that make contact above the shoulders.
Hill led the Wildcats with 18 points in the first half, when Arizona hit 43.8 percent from the field but just 34.7 percent among everyone else but Hill.
Without Hill’s shooting, Arizona also made just 2 of 12 three-pointers in the half, including a 1-for-5 long-range effort by Mark Lyons.
Brock Motum led WSU in the half with nine points while he and Lacy finished with 15 points each to lead the Cougars overall.