Let’s start with Arizona and the breaking news surrounding the Wildcats team. Coach Sean Miller’s didn’t confirm a Foxsports.com story that reported the school will take away a scholarship and reduce recruiting time stemming from NCAA rules violations committed by former coach Lute Olson.
Miller did say Arizona will sanction itself. He declined to say what those sanctions would be. It doesn’t appear as if the penalties will prevent the Wildcats from playing in postseason tournaments this season.
Just an all-around bad day for the Wildcats, who couldn’t stop Quincy Pondexter.
Said Miller: “I thought he was fantastic. I think he’s one of the best forwards that plays college basketball.”
Pondexter did a little bit of everything for Washington in its 81-75 victory over the Wildcats. He scored 30 points. He collected 12 rebounds, six on the offensive glass. He delivered three assists. About the only negative from Pondexter’s performance was three turnovers and five missed free throws.
Miller had more praise for Pondexter: “He’s a terrific player. He only had seven points down in Tucson, but tonight with 30 points and 12 rebounds. He really solidified himself as a candidate for Player of the Year, he’s certainly one of the five best. He’s a great senior leader.”
When Pondexter plays like this and a few other players chip in – tonight it was Venoy Overton and Scott Suggs – the Huskies are tough to beat. Especially at home where they are 15-1 this season and 33-2 over the past two seasons.
Pondexter said he was elbowed in the stomach in the second half by Kevin Parrom. Pondexter, who dropped to the floor for a couple of minutes, said it was similar to the cheap shot delivered by Washington State’s James Watson.
“He got me in the right spot,” he said. “That’s the second time they haven’t gotten a technical. I take shots like that every time. Even when I don’t go down, I’m getting hit a lot by the opposing team’s defenders.
“It’s just to try to get you out of your game. But it’s a part of basketball. I don’t think they did a great job of that.”
— Coach Lorenzo Romar benched second-leading scorer Isaiah Thomas for the start of the second half and started Overton.
“We wanted to get the ball moving tonight and Venoy and Abdul (Gaddy) probably tonight did a better job at moving the basketball,” Romar said. “We were looking for answers in the second half. We came out and I think we had four or five assists in the first four minutes. Those were made by Justin Holiday, but those were given a chance to move a little bit.”
Thomas struggled with his shot (3 for 10), but he finished with six rebounds and seven points. He also had four turnovers.
Meanwhile, Overton also had problems with turnovers (four) and he failed to get an assists. Still, Overton pushed the ball offensively and pressured defensively, which sped up the tempo and created a pace that was uncomfortable for the Wildcats. Arizona has an efficient halfcourt offense and defense, but when things are chaotic, the Widcats are prone to make turnovers. Tonight they had 20, which led to 25 UW points.
Overton also was clutch at the free throw line where he converted nine of 10, including a 6-for-6 stretch in the final minute.
— Holiday, who missed the first Arizona game, made amends for his absence with an all-around solid effort. He finished with five points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
— If Suggs doesn’t drain three three-pointers. the Huskies don’t win. He’s been clutch at home this season it’s reasonably safe to say he’s UW’s best 3-point shooter that isn’t redshirting.
— Big game for Tyreese Breshers. It was arguably his best performance even though he played just 12 minutes. He had two blocks in the opening minutes that set a defensive tone and he helped get Derrick Williams into foul trouble. Breshers finished with nine points, three shy of his career best, and six rebounds.
Washington’s big men have taken heat this season, but tonight Breshers nearly outscored Arizona’s starting frontline, which had 10 points.