Arizona followed up back-to-back losses with a narrow win over one of the Pac-12's worst teams.
With March just around the corner, coach Sean Miller is hoping to see his team pick up the pace significantly, starting Wednesday night when the No. 12 Wildcats take on road-challenged Washington.After opening 14-0, Arizona (21-4, 9-4) has encountered a bumpy road over the last six weeks, including home losses to UCLA and California.The Wildcats followed the loss to Cal with a 71-58 defeat Thursday at Colorado, then had their hands full again Sunday at Utah before pulling out a 68-64 win. Arizona regained control down the stretch after blowing a 13-point second-half lead."We keep putting ourselves in the same position, which is a one-possession game down to the end," said Miller, whose team sits in a second-place tie with UCLA in the Pac-12, one game behind Oregon. "It's a matter of where we go from here. We are happy with the win but we have to get better as we move forward if we want to accomplish something special in March."Averaging a team-high 15.3 points, Mark Lyons had 18 to lead five Wildcats with at least nine Sunday. He scored nine of Arizona's last 15 points."He's at his best when the chips are down," Miller said of Lyons. "That's who he is. That's one of the reasons we as a team really love him. When it's close and it's tight, he has the ability and the confidence to make big plays."Arizona, in contrast, overcame a quiet performance from Lyons during a 57-53 win at Washington on Jan. 31. The senior guard had 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting as the Wildcats snapped a three-game losing streak in this series despite shooting a season-low 35.1 percent.Arizona had taken five straight from the Huskies (14-12, 6-7) at home before coming up short 69-67 on Jan. 28, 2012. The Wildcats, though, have to like their chances of avenging that defeat against a Washington team that's dropped four straight on the road for the first time since opening 0-6 in 2009-10.Washington has also lost seven straight against Top 25 opponents. Five of those defeats were decided by six points or fewer.The Huskies are coming off their second win in nine games overall, 72-62 over Oregon State on Saturday. Junior standout C.J. Wilcox, who had been limited to a combined 17 points on 30.0 percent shooting in his previous two games, broke out with 24 as the Huskies snapped a three-game skid."We can't get too happy about it because they are (tied for 10th place)," said Wilcox, averaging a team-best 17.6 points. "It just feels good to finally get one and get off that streak."Washington, which shot 50.0 percent and limited the Beavers to a season-low 33.9 percent, held a 41-28 edge on the glass."We got the win tonight, so now we're focusing on Arizona and trying to get another one on the road," said Abdul Gaddy, who dished out a season-high nine assists. "They are a very tough team so we have to dominate."It remains to be seen how the Wildcats plan to use senior Kevin Parrom. The swingman replaced freshman forward Brandon Ashley in Sunday's starting lineup and had nine points and nine rebounds."We're at the end of the road here," Miller said. "He's a senior and we're going to ride the guys who have the most to gain and the most to lose. Lyons, (Solomon) Hill and Parrom -- they're the guys to me who can start the game the best way."