SEATTLE — Down by 14 early on the road in a raucous building, the last thing No. 4 Arizona was going to do was panic.
Once the Wildcats started rolling Saturday, they added even more evidence why they are one of the best teams in the country.
“It just took us a little bit of time to work ourselves into that game,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said.
Bennedict Mathurin scored 25 points, Azuolas Tubelis added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 4 Arizona overcame a sluggish start to race past Washington for a convincing 92-68 victory.
The Wildcats (22-2, 12-1 Pac-12) won their sixth straight, erasing an early 14-point deficit and dominating the final 30 minutes. Take away Washington’s opening punch and Arizona’s performance was another example of why the Wildcats could be dangerous come March.
“I feel good. My team feels good. Our coach feels good. We know what kind of team we are and we need to show other teams how real Arizona plays basketball and I think you saw it tonight how we played,” Tubelis said.
Arizona locked down the Huskies — aside from Terrell Brown Jr., who had 29 points — and efficiently found ways to pick apart Washington’s defense.
The Wildcats shot 57%, and eight different players scored. Arizona didn’t need the 3-pointer, but still made eight of them. Dalen Terry added 12 points and Oumar Ballo scored 10 off the bench.
Washington coach Mike Hopkins said he believes Arizona is the best team in the country.
“They called a timeout, made some adjustments on how they were going to guard (Brown) and how they were going to attack our zone,” Hopkins said. “From that on, they scored a lot and we had zero resistance.”
Brown, who played last season before transferring back to his hometown for his final year, made his first seven shots during Washington’s hot start, but only two of his final 13 attempts. Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Nate Roberts both finished with 10 points for the Huskies (13-10, 8-5).
In the first meeting with the Wildcats, Brown had 19 of his 28 points in the first half. He started hot again, scoring 16 points early as the Huskies took a 25-11 lead and had the arena rocking at the prospect of an upset.
But just as quickly as Washington built its lead, it evaporated as Brown got no help at the offensive end.
Arizona outscored Washington 34-11 over the final 10½ minutes of the first half and the 14-point deficit was a 45-36 Wildcats lead at halftime.
The onslaught continued over the final 20 minutes. Arizona started the half on a 20-7 spurt and at one point late in the half Arizona had more dunks (seven) than Washington had made field goals (six).
“We always talk about a cumulative effort, like our ball pressure, our gap help, our rim protection, the way we run the floor, the way we move on offense that way we offensive rebound,” Lloyd said. “We want to be relentless. We don’t want to ever let up and eventually we hope the dam breaks.”
Lloyd’s first trip back to the state of Washington as coach at Arizona was a rousing success and also a homecoming. The Wildcats practiced at Gonzaga earlier in the week before facing Washington State. Lloyd was a longtime assistant for the Zags. And Lloyd’s family from Kelso, Washington, drove up to Seattle for Saturday’s game.
“They’ve done an amazing job supporting me throughout my entire basketball career and everything I’ve done, so it’s it’s great,” Lloyd said.
Arizona: Guard Kerr Kriisa left late in the second half in discomfort holding, his left hand/wrist. Kriisa had six points and five assists, and has been averaging 10.4 points a game this season.
Washington: The Huskies played their second straight game without starting guard Daejon Davis due to a shoulder injury suffered last week against Stanford. Davis started the first 21 games of the season and was averaging 7.8 points per game. Davis’ absence was felt as Washington struggled to run its offense after the quick start.
Arizona: Hosts Oregon State on Thursday.
Washington: At No. 21 USC on Thursday.
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