UA coach Sean Miller says: "Sometimes in this tournament, game pressure in the moment becomes so big that you can deviate. Players do things they haven't done."

SEATTLE - Before the college basketball season started, Washington was considered the class of the Pac-10 and the Arizona Wildcats were one of several distant challengers.

Nothing happened Thursday to change that perception.

Behind electric point guard Isaiah Thomas, the Huskies took control of a sometimes sloppy, close game in the middle of the second half, cruising down the stretch to an 85-68 victory over Arizona before a giddy sold-out crowd at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

Thomas had 22 points and 10 assists and UA coach Sean Miller swore he was probably closer to 15 assists. Miller said Thomas "is right with" Connecticut's Kemba Walker and BYU's Jimmer Fredette as one of the nation's top guards.

"If he is not one of the four or five best, then I want to invite those guys who vote to come watch film of him," Miller said. "He is dynamic."

Thomas' play overshadowed another double-double from Arizona's Derrick Williams, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds but not nearly enough help. Solomon Hill had 12 points and MoMo Jones had 10, yet Jones had more turnovers (three) than assists (two).

As a result, Arizona dropped to 15-4 overall and 4-2 in the Pac-10 with the loss, entering a game Saturday night at Washington State.

The Cougars (14-5, 4-3) beat ASU 78-61 earlier Thursday.

The 20th-ranked Huskies improved to 6-1 in the Pac-10 and 14-4 overall, on top of a conference they were supposed to dominate.

"That was exactly what I expected," Hill said. "They're not an inconsistent team. They play the same game every day, especially in front of their home crowd."

The Wildcats took a brief one-point lead early in the second half but Washington began to take charge of the game several minutes later.

After UA had taken a brief 44-43 lead and later cut Washington's lead to 51-48, Thomas sparked one key play during the transition - not with offense but with pure hustle, racing into the stands to save a deflection of a shot by Kevin Parrom that was blocked. Washington converted that sudden possession into a three-pointer by Darnell Gant and took a 59-50 lead with 11:15 left.

"You have to deal with that little monster," Miller said, smiling as he referred again to Thomas. "And I mean that in the most positive way. He's so controlling on both ends that you are at his mercy."

Meanwhile, UA struggled with its own point-guard play. The Wildcats had three assists and four turnovers combined between point guards Jones and Jordin Mayes, while Mayes also missed all four free throws he took.

"You could see it in his face," Hill said of Mayes' nerves. "He has to hit those."

Miller even inserted Brendon Lavender briefly at point guard but, when asked after the game his thoughts on UA's point-guard play, just smiled again and referred to Thomas.

"It wasn't as good as Washington's" point-guard play, he said.

Earlier in the second half, Jones picked up a loose ball and made a layup to give UA a brief 44-43 lead with 16:09 left, though Washington's Matthew Bryan-Amaning answered with a dunk to give the Huskies the lead back.

At that point, Washington had committed 10 turnovers while UA had eight through the first 24 minutes.

UA trailed by five at halftime, but Williams tied the game at 38 with 18:28 left after UA grabbed a loose ball in the Husky backcourt.

The Wildcats trailed by up to 10 points in the first half and struggled predictably with guard play against Washington and Thomas. But they managed to out-rebound the Huskies 21-18, with seven rebounds coming from Williams, while Washington held a 36-31 lead at halftime.

Hill led UA in scoring for the half with eight points while Williams and Parrom each had six.

The Wildcats had only one assist from their two point guards, by Mayes. Jones had three turnovers and no assists.

The Wildcats trailed 32-22 with 2:48 left after Terrence Ross made a pair of free throws for Washington but the Wildcats cut the lead to 32-29 thanks in part to a three-pointer by Parrom.

However, Thomas hit a three-pointer with 1:13 left in the half and Venoy Overton made 1 of 2 free throws with 48.7 seconds left for a 36-29 Washington lead before Williams scored on UA's last possession of the half.

Washington led 30-22 with 3:13 left after going on 9-1 run punctuated by Overton's jam from the baseline.

Thomas missed all four of his first four free throws, helping the Wildcats stay within 13-11 with 11:58 to go. Thomas entered the game shooting 82.9 percent from the line in conference games.



• Who: Arizona at Washington State

• When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday


• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM