No. 9 Arizona, after a break of nearly two weeks, will have a chance to atone for its only loss of the season when it takes on Washington on Monday night in Tucson, Ariz.
The Wildcats (11-1, 1-0 Pac-12) have been off since suffering a 77-73 setback at then-No. 19 Tennessee on Dec. 22. They fought back from a 15-point first-half deficit to tie the game with about three minutes to go.
“It’s an experience and we’re going to really learn from it,” said Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd. “We came out really tentative against a really good, aggressive team and they put us on our heels.”
Washington (5-5, 0-0) will also be trying to shrug off some rust in the post-holiday part of its schedule. The Huskies have been idle since a miserable performance on Dec. 21, when they missed all 11 3-point attempts in a 68-52 home loss to Utah Valley.
Due to COVID-19 issues, Washington has played only twice since Nov. 27. The Huskies have yet to play a power conference team, with games against UCLA, Gonzaga and Washington State either postponed or canceled.
“Throughout the season you learn that there’s always work to be done,” said Washington guard Terrell Brown Jr.
“We didn’t have the best nonconference, but I know that we can persevere through a lot of stuff. And the players that we have are really good players. … You can see the potential is there. We just need to reach it,” Brown said.
The Arizona-Washington game originally was scheduled for Dec. 2 in Tucson, then rescheduled for Jan. 25 before being moved to Monday when Arizona’s slate opened due to its road trip to UCLA and USC being shelved.
It will be a homecoming for Brown, who played last season at Arizona after transferring from Seattle University. He is leading the Pac-12 with 21.4 points per game after averaging 7.3 points for Arizona last year.
“He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around,” said Washington coach Mike Hopkins. “He’s got the ability to score as well as make plays for others. When he feels like the other guys aren’t as engaged like he is, he looks to put us on his back.”
Brown also has a team-high 37 assists but isn’t getting enough help. The Huskies are shooting just 39.0 percent from the field, including 28.5 percent from 3-point range.
The Wildcats don’t have much trouble with offense. They are playing fast and loose under Lloyd, entering the week by leading the country in scoring (89.5 points per game) and ranking second in assists (21.3).
Bennedict Mathurin leads the way with 18.3 points per game. He has scored at least 24 points in four of his past six games. Azuolas Tubelis is next at 15.3 points per game, followed by frontcourt mate Christian Koloko (12.8).
Arizona figures to have a big advantage up front. The Wildcats have a plus-10.3 rebounding margin, while the Huskies are at minus-7.2.
Washington traveled to Pullman, Wash., to play Washington State last Wednesday but the game was called off due to COVID-19 protocols within the Cougars program. At that time, it was uncertain if Huskies starter Jamal Bey would play due to COVID protocols.
–Field Level Media