No. 12 Wildcats host Huskies in desert duel

A drop in the national rankings has the Arizona Wildcats ranked No. 12 as they get set to host the Washington Huskies in a Pac-12 Conference tussle at the McKale Center on Wednesday night.

Washington finally put an end to a long strech of losses in which it fell in three straight games and seven of the last eight contests, with a 72-62 win over Oregon State last time out. The Huskies are hovering around .500 this season both overall (14-12) and in league action (6-7) a year after finishing with the best mark in the Pac-12.

Though they won their most recent outing, a pair of setbacks last week dropped the Wildcats down to No. 12 in the most recent top-25. Arizona can still boast a 21-4 overall record but at 9-4 in league action is trailing No. 23 Oregon by a game in the league standings. The last time Arizona hit the floor at the McKale Center it was handed a 77-69 loss by California for its second defeat in 13 tries at home.

When these teams met earlier this season at Alaska Airlines Arena, Arizona came out on top, 57-53, in a grueling battle. The win ended a three-game winning streak for the Huskies in the all-time series which Arizona now leads 44-28.

C.J. Wilcox poured in a game-high 24 points and the Huskies shot 51.9 percent from the field in the second half to rally for a 10-point win over Oregon State on Saturday. The Huskies were outscored 26-13 in points off turnovers but controlled the boards with a 41-28 edge in rebounds.

Wilcox's performance against Oregon Sate broke a slump for the 6-foot-5 guard. The Huskies' leading scorer, Wilcox (17.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg) had failed to score in double figures in the previous two games and had not had more than 17 points in six straight games. Three other players are also scoring in double figures for the Huskies led by 3-point marksman Scott Suggs (11.3 ppg) and point guard Abdul Gaddy (11.2 ppg, 4.2 apg). Aziz N'Diaye (10.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg) is a double- double threat every time he takes the floor as well for the Huskies who lack depth with only one other player putting in more than six points per game. In all Washington is among the bottom quarter in the Pac-12 in points (68.4 pg), assists (11.9 pg) and field goal percentage (.439).

In a Sunday afternoon battle Arizona held off Utah, 68-64. The Wildcats never trailed in the contest and led by as many as 13 points. Mark Lyons scored a game-high 18 points and Arizona shot 47.2 percent from the field.

While shooting just a shade under 45 percent from the field, Arizona has enjoyed a sizable scoring margin (+10.6) as the second-best scoring team in the Pac-12. On defense the Wildcats are letting in just 63 points per game on 40.8 percent shooting. Lyons (15.3 ppg) is Arizona's counter to Wilcox. The 6- foot-1 guard has scored in double figures in six straight contests which is tied for the longest such streak of the season for him. Solomon Hill (13.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is an athletic forward that finishes well around the rim, while Nick Johnson (11.8 ppg) provides addition scoring punch out of the backcourt.