Azuolas Tubelis will aim to continue his torrid play as No. 6 Arizona vies for a season sweep of Washington on Saturday when the Pac-12 teams meet again in Seattle.
Tubelis recorded his sixth double-double in his past seven games on Thursday, lifting the Wildcats (18-3, 7-3) to a 63-58 victory over Washington State. He collected 18 points and 12 rebounds to send Arizona to its third straight win and move it within one game of first-place UCLA in the conference loss column.
Tubelis, who leads the Pac-12 in scoring (19.8 points per game) and rebounding (9.6), contributed 18 and 10, respectively, in the Wildcats’ 70-57 victory over Washington on Jan. 5.
Kerr Kriisa drained five 3-pointers to highlight his 15-point performance for Arizona on Thursday.
While appreciative of the offensive performances of Tubelis and Kriisa, Wildcats coach Tommy Lloyd was quick to credit his team’s play at the other end of the court. Arizona held Washington State to 32.8 percent shooting from the floor (19 of 58) and 23.5 percent from 3-point range (4 of 17).
“We were much more engaged, a lot more active,” Lloyd said. “We got to change our game plan a little bit, didn’t switch as much off ball screens, and we just really challenged our guys to get sticky, be physical, be aggressive and do the best job we can limiting their 3-point attempts, especially from their good 3-point shooters.
“You have to live with some downhill drives and some shots at the (rim), but all in all, I think it was a well-executed game plan by our guys.”
Arizona also avenged a 74-61 setback to Washington State on Jan. 7. That loss in Tuscon ended a 28-game home winning streak for the Wildcats.
“We wanted to bite them back at their homecourt,” Wildcats guard Pelle Larsson said. “We all remember the feelings from that game, and that was just channeled to this one.”
Washington (13-9, 5-6) will have revenge on its mind after falling to Arizona earlier this month. The Huskies have turned the tide in answering a season-high five-game losing skid by winning four of their past five games.
Like Lloyd, Washington coach Mike Hopkins applauded his team’s defense in its most recent game — a 69-66 overtime victory over Arizona State on Thursday.
“I thought transition defense was the key to the game,” Hopkins said. “After falling down early, we made it a game largely because our defense really stepped up.”
The Huskies limited the Sun Devils to 30.7 percent shooting from the floor (23 of 75) and 28.1 percent from 3-point range (9 of 32).
Keion Brooks, who scored 22 points on Thursday, had a team high-tying 16 in the previous encounter versus the Wildcats. He boasts a team-best average in points (17.6) and rebounds (7.2) this season.
Cole Bajema (10.1) is the only other member of the Huskies averaging a double-digit point total. He also scored 16 points in the previous meeting with Arizona.
–Field Level Media