PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Bennedict Mathurin scored 20 points, Azuolas Tubelis added 15, and No. 4 Arizona pulled away in the second half for a 72-60 win over Washington State.
Arizona (21-2, 11-1 Pac-12) won its fifth straight and is off to its best start since the 2016-17 season. The Wildcats have won 16 of the last 17 against Washington State and used a big surge midway through the second half after the Cougars threatened.
Arizona shot 49% for the game, but had a key stretch making seven straight shots that saw a four-point lead balloon to 22 in a hurry. Mathurin had all 12 of his second-half points during Arizona's decisive run.
“They’re a really good defensive team, but I thought we did a good job moving them and breaking down some of that pressure they bring,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “But I think we could’ve shot even better. We definitely rushed some finishes there.”
Michael Flowers led the Cougars with 16 points, but shot just 7 of 19. Noah Williams came off the bench to score 10 points.
Arizona led by as many as 17 in the first half thanks to an early 13-0 run. But it was Arizona's second-half run that finally put away the Cougars.
Washington State shot 26.5% in the first half, missed all 12 of its 3-point attempts and trailed 33-20 at the break.
“We wanted to guard the 3 today,” Lloyd said. “I felt like if we could make it a two-point, slash and free-throw type of game we’d be in good shape.”
But the Cougars started knocking down some perimeter shots early in the second half and pulled within 39-35. T.J. Bamba missed a layup attempt in transition that would have trimmed the deficit to two, and instead became the start of Arizona's big run.
“They really make you work in a lot of different ways and create a lot of momentum shifters throughout the game,” Flowers said. "We had a chance to cut it to two and they shot it back up, but hats off to them for that.”
Arizona made its next seven shots as part of a 15-4 run. Mathurin later added consecutive 3-pointers and his breakaway dunk with 7:51 left gave the Wildcats a 64-42 lead.
“We practice that — staying calm and poised no matter what the environment is,” Mathurin said. “My teammates are always pushing, so I’m grateful for them.”
The Cougars (14-8, 7-4 Pac-12) came in as the conference leader in 3-point percentage, but finished 8 of 32.
"We’ve got to play better. Simple as that,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said. “We've got to make shots. You’re not going to beat a team that good shooting the way we did.”
Washington State's Mouhamed Gueye exited with 7:13 left after suffering a left ankle injury. The freshman finished with nine points and five rebounds. Smith did not have an update about the severity of the injury afterward.
Arizona: For the Wildcats, the final stretch doesn’t feature a ranked opponent and it will include four of the last seven games on their home floor. They’ll be looking to secure the Pac-12 regular-season title and gain momentum heading into the conference tournament.
Washington State: The Cougars are still seeking a big victory that will help their NCAA tournament resume. They'll have chances down the stretch with road matchups games remaining against Oregon, No. 12 UCLA, and No. 21 USC.
Arizona: At Washington on Saturday.
Washington State: Will host Arizona State on Saturday.
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