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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Keeping pace: Arizona’s fifth straight win keeps ‘Cats on heels of Pac-12 leaders

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If there were any questions remaining about Arizona’s ability to close out tight games, the Wildcats answered them on Thursday.

Freshman guard Josiah Turner delivered a slick one-handed pass to Jesse Perry, who turned the feed into a layup and an and-1 to give the Wildcats a three-point lead with 38.8 seconds to play and the Arizona men’s basketball team took down Washington State, 76-72, in Pullman, Wash., for its fifth straight win and sixth in seven games.

The win was Arizona’s second on the Washington road trip since head coach Sean Miller was hired three seasons ago.

Perry spent most of the second half on the bench in foul trouble but came through when Arizona (19-8, 10-4 Pac-12) needed him most — scoring five points in the game’s final 1:20, including a twisting layup that gave the Wildcats a two-point lead with 1:21 to play. The senior from St. Louis finished the game with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

“We worked so hard throughout the week in practice to get those wins on the road, so it’s a beautiful feeling,” senior guard Brendon Lavender said. “As long as we can keep it up and stay together and everyone just keeps playing as hard as they can, then we’ll have a good outcome.”

Arizona has now won its last two games decided by four or fewer points after dropping its first four such games this season.

Washington State (13-13, 5-9) forward Brock Motum scored 28 points on 8-of-14 shooting but hit just 1-of-3 free throws with the Cougars trailing by three with 21 seconds left to play. Motum finished the game on a 1-of-7 shooting streak from the line.

“He is just outstanding on offense,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said of Motum. “I’m going to tell you that there are very few teams that have an answer for how good of an offensive player he has become.”

Senior guard Kyle Fogg finished the game with his first career double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds. Fogg connected on 2-of-5 shots from 3-point range but allowed Washington State guard Reggie Moore to score 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Solomon Hill scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds while playing 39 minutes.

Motum forced both Perry and freshman forward Angelo Chol to the bench with foul trouble on his way to 18 free throw attempts. Chol finished the game with eight points, tying a career-high, and four rebounds. Perry picked up his fourth foul just 36 seconds into the second half and played sparingly for the remainder of the game.

Lavender continued his hot shooting of late, knocking down 5-of-7 shots from 3-point range and finishing the game with a team-high 17 points.

Washington State opened the game on a 9-1 run, but Arizona used a 10-2 run of its own to even the game at 11 before the Cougars could open things up. WSU’s lead got as high as seven points after that before Fogg hit a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 28-27 lead with just under eight minutes to play in the half.

Arizona used six first-half points from Chol and a block from freshman guard Nick Johnson with seconds remaining in the half to head to the locker room with a one-point lead.

The Wildcats opened the second half by turning the ball over four times in the first three minutes, but Washington State wasn’t able to take its first lead until the 15:41 mark.

Arizona heads to Seattle to take on Washington at 1 p.m. on Saturday with a chance to move into a tie for second place in the Pac-12 Conference.

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