Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The seventh-ranked Arizona Wildcats begin a two-game trek in the Pacific Northwest on Friday, as they take on the Washington Huskies in a Pac-12 matchup at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Wildcats are sitting a half game behind Utah (9-2) in the conference standings at 8-2, thanks to the Utes' victory over Stanford on Thursday. Sean Miller's squad is coming off a loss however, as a six-game win streak came to a close last weekend with an 81-78 shootout loss to rival Arizona State in Tempe.
Lorenzo Romar's Huskies had a strong run during non-conference play, but the league slate has produced very little success. Washington is in 11th place in the conference standings at a meager 3-8 and enters this contest with an ugly five-game losing streak in tow, kept alive with last Sunday's 64-50 setback at Oregon State.
Arizona leads the all-time series by a count of 47-28 and has won each of the last three meetings. In Seattle though, Washington holds a narrow 18-17 edge.
The Sun Devils got revenge for an earlier lopsided loss to Arizona and pulled off the upset at Wells Fargo Arena last weekend thanks in large part to hitting their free-throws down the stretch. Overall, ASU went 22-of-28 from the charity stripe, while Arizona was just 8-of-14. The loss spoiled an offensive eruption by T.J. McConnell, who finished with a game-high 25 points. Stanley Johnson poured in 16 points, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley checked in with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The loss to Arizona State aside, Arizona has shown very few weaknesses this season. The team is still sporting an impressive +15.8 scoring margin, averaging 75.0 ppg on a hefty .491 shooting, while holding foes to just 59.2 ppg and .402 from the floor. Johnson is one of the rising stars in the Pac-12. The 6-7 freshman has made an immediate impact on the Arizona roster and leads the team in both scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg). Ashley (11.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Hollis-Jefferson (11.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg) add to a strong frontcourt. McConnell (9.7 ppg, 5.7 apg) and Gabe York (8.7 ppg) give the team backcourt balance.
Washington possesses some offensive punch at 69.4 ppg, doing so on a healthy .451 shooting percentage. Three of the team's five starters are averaging double figures in scoring, but the undisputed leader of the group is sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss. The 6-3 youngster is both a potent scorer and deft distributor, averaging team-highs with 15.3 points and 6.0 assists per game (leads the Pac-12). Junior guard Andrew Andrews and junior forward Shawn Kemp Jr. net 12.9 ppg and 10.1, respectively.
The Huskies did themselves in against Oregon State on Sunday, committing a whopping 22 turnovers in 14-point loss. The Beavers also dominated play down low, outscoring Washington 40-24 in the paint. Three Huskies notched double figures in the loss, but the team as a whole connected on just .357 from the field, compared to OSU's .511 effort. Andrews led the way with 14 points and eight rebounds. Williams-Goss and Kemp checked in with 13 points apiece.