Run it back.
After Washington captured a 69-63 upset win at Arizona on Saturday night, the teams will face each other four days later in a rubber match with UW’s postseason life hanging in the balance
The Huskies (15-16, 5-13 Pac-12) are the No. 12 seed in the Pac-12 tournament and pitted against the Wildcats (20-11, 10-8) in a first-round matchup at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Arizona, which beat Washington 75-72 at Alaska Airlines Arena on Jan.30, has lost four of the past five games.
Meanwhile, the Huskies enter the postseason with momentum after winning three of the past four games and sweeping Arizona and Arizona State on the road for the first time since 2012 to capture its first Pac-12 road wins of the season.
It’s impossible to prove, but Washington is arguably the most dangerous last-place team in the country.
Here are three impressions.
WHY NOT US?
Before guiding the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl victory in 2014, quarterback Russell Wilson went public with his personal “Why not us?” motto that’s shaped his life.
The Huskies would do well to hijack that message ahead of a wide-open Pac-12 tournament without any clear favorites.
By virtue of winning the league’s regular-season title, defending Pac-12 tournament champion Oregon is the No. 1 seed followed in order by UCLA, Arizona State and USC.
In seven games against those teams, Washington led 483-469 in scoring but finished with a 2-5 record. The Huskies lost four of those games by six points or fewer and they crushed USC 72-40 on Jan. 4.
Arizona, which relies heavily on three talented freshmen (Zeke Nnaji, Nico Mannion and Josh Green), certainly appeared vulnerable Saturday while shooting 35.1% from the field and committing 18 turnovers.
If the Huskies upset the Wildcats in the Pac-12 tournament opener, then they would face USC in the quarterfinals in another rubber match scenario. The Trojans beat the Huskies 62-56 on Feb. 13.
Washington is a 50-1 longshot to win the league tourney, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.
In a game that included five projected NBA first-round draft picks, Jaden McDaniels was the best of the one-and-done prospects on the court.
Coach Mike Hopkins’ faith and commitment in the erstwhile freshman star is being rewarded while he’s playing some of his best basketball of the season.
In seven of the past eight games, the 6-foot-9 forward has continually produced while coming off the bench in all but one of those games.
Against Arizona, McDaniels tallied a game-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including two three-pointers. He also had six rebounds, three blocks, an assist, a steal and just one turnover in 32 minutes.
In Washington’s previous game against Arizona, McDaniels committed a technical foul that proved costly.
This time he kept his cool in a heated environment, avoided dust-ups with disgruntled Wildcats and drained two free throws after Arizona’s Christian Koloko was assessed a technical foul.
POISED UNDER PRESSURE
Washington led by 17 points (40-23) early in the second half and appeared headed toward a blowout win when the offense went cold and Arizona took control of the game.
The Wildcats outscored the Huskies 32-19 over the next 15 minutes to pull behind 59-55 with 3:55 left.
Too often this season, UW would wilt in the closing minutes of tight games.
But this time, Jamal Bey, who shoots 25.7% on three-pointers, drilled a long jumper behind the arc at the 3:29 mark.
On the next offensive trip, McDaniels drained a three-pointer that essentially put the game away and gave Washington a 65-55 lead with 2:45 left.
Bey, who finished with 12 points, scored seven of the final 10 points for the Huskies, including four at the free-throw line in the final minute.
In Washington’s previous game – a 90-83 win at Arizona State – the Huskies led 73-72 in the final four minutes when McDaniels and Nahziah Carter knocked down clutch three-pointers. Bey finished that game with six free throws in the last 1:11.
Several factors help explain the Huskies’ newfound ability to win close games, but their free-throw performance looms largest. Before last week’s trip, Washington lost 78-74 to Washington State while converting 23 of 38 foul shots.
In the past two games, UW has converted 34 of 39 free throws.