Seattle, WA – Nick Johnson made three key free throws down the stretch to lift the eighth-ranked Arizona Wildcats over the Washington Huskies, 57-53, on Thursday.
Johnson ended with 15 points, six rebounds and four steals for the Wildcats (18-2, 6-2 Pac-12), who are off to an 18-2 start for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
Kaleb Tarczewski, Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill had 10 points apiece for Arizona, which had lost five straight games at Washington.
Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox each tallied 11 points for the Huskies (12-9, 4-4), who have lost four straight for the first time since 2008. Aziz N'Diaye and Abdul Gaddy added 10 points apiece.
Trailing by five, 44-39, with 8:10 to play, Washington went on a 9-2 run to take the lead. Suggs tallied four points during the spurt that Wilcox capped with a 3-pointer to make it 48-46.
Lyons' jumper and Hill's layup around a Gaddy turnover gave Arizona a 50-48 edge with 3:25 left.
Washington's poor performance from the charity stripe down the stretch proved to be costly. Wilcox was fouled on a shot from beyond the arc on the ensuing Washington possession, but went 2-of-3 from the line.
After Lyons missed a 3-pointer, Shawn Kemp Jr. went 1-of-2 from the line to give the Huskies a 51-50 lead with 2:31 to go.
Johnson grabbed a big offensive rebound following Gaddy's block of Lyons. He made a jumper to give the Wildcats a 52-51 lead.
N'Diaye kept Washington's ensuing possession alive with an offensive rebound off Wilcox's missed jumper. N'Diaye was fouled and missed both foul shots.
"I've been working on compressing my shot on the line; to be honest I don't know why I'm not making them," N'Diaye said.
The misses led to Hill's jumper and a 54-51 Arizona lead with 1:18 remaining.
Following a jumper by Suggs, Johnson went 1-of-2 from the line to make it 55-53. Gaddy then turned the ball over on an alley-oop pass. Johnson followed with a pair of foul shots to give the Wildcats a 57-53 margin with 26.8 seconds left.
On Washington's final possession of the game, Wilcox missed two short jumpers and N'Diaye was off the mark from beyond the arc.
The Huskies started the game on a 16-5 run, but the Wildcats responded with a 16-4 surge. Tarczewski tallied seven points during the burst that Johnson capped with a jumper to make it 21-20 with 4:35 to go.
Washington fired back with an 8-2 spurt to end the half. Wilcox bookended the flurry with a pair of jumpers to give the home team a 28-23 margin at the break.
Trailing by four, 35-31, with 14:25 to play, Arizona went on a 13-4 run to take a 44-39 lead.
"Coach (Sean Miller) challenged us at halftime to go out there, play together and play hard, and that's what we did," Johnson said. "It wasn't pretty at all, but we battled again and pulled it out."
Arizona owns a 45-28 lead in the all-time series with Washington ... Each team turned the ball over 17 times ... The game featured 10 lead changes and five ties.