arizona washington

No. 1 Arizona overcomes an off-night to beat Washington at home

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Nick Johnson went for 24 points and four assists and Aaron Gordon chipped in with 18 points and 11 boards as No. 1 Arizona survived an upset-bid from visiting Washington, beating the Huskies 71-62.

C.J. Wilcox led the way for the Huskies with 20 points, but where Washington did most of their damage was in the paint and around the rim. Shawn Kemp Jr. and Perris Blackwell combined for 21 points and 17 boards while shooting 9-for-11 from the floor. Washington’s perimeter trio of Wilcox, Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews did most of their damage off the dribble as well. The Huskies shot 55.6% from the floor in the first half and we still over 50% from field well into the second half.

At the same time, Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashely combined for just 11 boards while committing eight fouls and four turnovers and shooting 3-for-15 from the field.

Those are a lot of numbers to throw at you, but I have a point here, I swear.

The strength of this Arizona team is that they are terrific defensively and that they have the kind of front court size that will overwhelm smaller opponents. That’s their bread and butter, and on Saturday afternoon, Washington spent 30 minutes outplaying the Wildcats in the paint and slicing up that vaunted defense.

Good teams win games when they don’t play well, and the bottom-line is that Arizona simply didn’t play well on Saturday. I don’t usually put much stock in what head coaches say during halftime interviews, but Sean Miller had a telling quote on the Pac-12 Network’s broadcast. When asked what adjustments the Wildcats needed to make to overcome a 35-33 halftime deficit, Miller simply said, “No adjustments. We’re going to do what we do, we just need to do it better.”

It took well into the second half for Arizona to do that, but they eventually did. The game-changing run for the Wildcats featured a stretch of nine straight field goals that were either dunks or layups.

That’s how Arizona has to win games.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: