TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Washington fought through its struggles in the first half to keep the game close. Once Arizona started to run away in the second, the Huskies didn’t have an answer — and didn’t seem to be searching too hard for one.
Close despite another tough shooting night against Arizona, Washington fell apart in the second half of a 70-52 loss to the 12th-ranked Wildcats Wednesday night.
“We don’t play with a lack of pride. In the second half, we played with a lack of pride,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Most of the time we go out there and compete. In the first half, I thought we competed, but in the second half we lost our competition.”
Whether it was the late tipoff or the rare snowstorm outside, Arizona (22-4, 10-4 Pac-12) was sluggish at the start, needing nearly 12 minutes just to crack double figures. Once they got rolling, the Wildcats didn’t stop, revving up the rowdy crowd with fast-break layups and tenacious defense.
A rowdy crowd filled McKale Center despite the late tipoff and a rare desert snowstorm outside, but Arizona didn’t give them much to cheer about, clanging one shot after another while needing nearly 12 minutes just to crack double figures.
Mark Lyons got the Wildcats rolling, Solomon Hill took it from there and Nick Johnson finished it off, revving up the crowd with fast-break dunks, 3-pointers and a stifling defense that gave the Huskies no room to shoot anywhere on the floor.
Hill had 19 points, Lyons 14 and Johnson added 12 points, five assists while keying a second-half run that put the game out of reach. Kaleb Tarczewski also gave Arizona a lift with 10 points and eight rebounds.
“Once we got through the first 8-to-10 minutes of the game, that’s the best we’ve played in some time,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
Washington (14-13, 6-8) failed to take advantage of Arizona’s slow start thanks to a tough night on offense.
The Huskies struggled in their previous meeting against the Wildcats and duplicated it in the desert, shooting 30 percent while making 1 of 11 from 3-point range.
Leading scorer C.J. Wilcox had 15 points, but had to work hard to get them, hit 1 of 6 from the 3-point arc. Abdul Daddy added 12 points for Washington, which never threatened the lead after Arizona went up eight at halftime.
“I don’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction and change everything,” Romar said. “We were playing the No. 12 team in the country on their home court. In that situation, you can’t afford to come out in the second half and not compete at a high level.”
The Wildcats and Huskies played a brutal game in Seattle on Jan. 31, combining to miss 26 3-pointers while neither team hit 60 points.
Arizona won it 57-53, overcoming 17 turnovers and a 3-for-18 night from the arc behind one of its better defensive efforts of the season. The Wildcats held Wilcox to 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting and the Huskies to 1 of 12 from 3-point range to pull out the not-so-pretty victory.
This one was just as ugly in the beginning.
Going deep into the shot clock on many of its possessions, Arizona had a stretch over 4½ minutes without a field goal and didn’t crack double figures until the 8:07 mark of the first half. The Wildcats had another four-minute lull between field goals before Lyons got them rolling with a pair of 3-pointers wrapped around two free throws.
“We were a little tentative, just feeling it out a little bit,” Johnson said. “Mark gave us that spark and ever since then, we were rolling.”
The Huskies weren’t exactly sharp on offense, playing well in spurts, but mostly struggling against Arizona’s defense.
Washington had trouble even getting looks from the 3-point line — 1 for 3 in the first half — and missed plenty of shots around the rim, going 11 for 31 in the first half.
The Wildcats were 10 for 28 from the floor, but led 33-25 with the assist of a technical foul on Washington center Aziz N’Diaye for tossing Arizona’s Kevin Parrom to the floor in a loose-ball scrum.
Johnson made sure the Huskies didn’t make up any ground to start the second half. He scored on the break after a pair of bounce passes from Lyons, knocked down a 3-pointer and added another layup in transition.
Johnson’s nine points in the first 6 minutes of the half pushed Arizona’s lead to 49-29.
The Wildcats gave Washington no shot at the comeback, forcing the Huskies to miss all eight of their 3-pointers in the second half after allowing the previous three opponents to hit a combined 22 of 45.
“We just got knocked down bad, but we need to get back up,” Washington forward Desmond Simmons said. “We can’t have a pit party. This was embarrassing, but we can’t point fingers.”
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.