Arizona moved to 22-4 overall and played one of its better games of the season against Washington:
On defense leading to offense:“We got to where we are as a team. We are all the same in college basketball. There are certain things we do well and other things that maybe we don’t. But if we don’t do the things in games that we’ve done consistently then we are very vulnerable. There are too many teams that can equalize who we are versus who they are. Tonight our identity was in place. To out rebound Washington is a great testament to our entire team. We did that. We were very hard to score against with a 30-percent field goal percentage defense. Although they only turned it over nine times, our key steals and shot blocks led to a break out and that’s really what changed the game the second half defensively. Then, that leads to offense. We had five players with double figures. We were able to do that in large part because defense leads to transition opportunities. Once we got through the first eight to ten minutes of the game, that’s the best we had played in some time.”
On defense in the second half:“Our defense hasn’t been as good in the second half. We committed to staying with it. No matter what the score was we were going to continue to defend on every play. It was great to see Nick [Johnson] get in the double figures. I think some of the transitions led to him regaining his confidence. Brandon Ashley in twenty minutes ended up getting 10 points with five rebounds. He made some key offensive plays at the basket. I’m overall proud of our guys. Kaleb continues to get better. He rebounded very well with eight rebounds and 10 points.”
On Kaleb Tarczewski’s performance at center:“Big, young guys are more comfortable when they have an opportunity to play against a guy of their own size. Where Kaleb has struggled this year is when he has to guard players away from the basket. He’s gotten better even in that area. That is going to be the challenge on Saturday when we play Washington State because they really spread you out. We have to do a really good job defending the three-point line.”
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On Nick Johnson stepping up:“He did a really good job. You talk about team wins when different players wear different hats. As the season goes on, that’s what happens. You have injuries and foul trouble. In our case, we had someone foul out very early in the game. We wouldn’t have been able to survive unless different players stepped up. Not just Nick [Johnson], but I also mentioned Brandon [Ashley] in the second half where he gave us a bunch of scoring at a time when we were vulnerable not to score. I always go back to what we started with and that is for us to commit to being a 40-minute defensive team. To be hard to score against, to defend the three-point line, to try to keep the other team off the foul line, to block shots, and play hard. We are our best team when we have that in place and tonight we had that.”