David Crisp scored 17 points to lead five Huskies in double digits as UW won its 12th game, improving to 10-0 in the Pac-12. The win also snapped a four-game losing streak in Tucson.
TUCSON, ARIZ. – Nearly a third of the Huskies, including Mike Hopkins and his coaching staff, battled flu-like symptoms before Thursday’s game at Arizona.
“It’s not just me, it’s everybody,” the UW coach said. “You feel like you’ve been run over by a truck. And then the truck backs up and runs you over again.”
The same analogy could apply to the beating the Huskies delivered the Wildcats during a 67-60 victory in front of 13,732 at McKale Center.
Despite being shorthanded and relying on a makeshift starting lineup, Washington won its 12th straight game and snapped a four-game losing streak at Arizona – a place where UW hadn’t won since 2012.
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“One of our mottos is ready for anything,” Hopkins said. “We didn’t know if Noah (Dickerson) was going to play. Matisse (Thybulle) was under the weather. Hameir (Wright) was in the bathroom and he couldn’t come out to warm up. Dom Green was sick (and) the coaching staff.
“You just got to gut it up and go out there and just compete and our guys did that tonight.”
Washington improved to 19-4 and 10-0 in the Pac-12, which is tied with the 2016-17 Arizona team for the conference’s fifth best start since the league expanded to an 18-game schedule in 1978-79.
“Winning is always great,” said David Crisp, who scored a game-high 17 points and hit three 3-pointers. “When you come into a great arena like this with a great environment, and you pull out a tough win like that. It’s a complete team effort. … It feels great.”
A little while back, Crisp let everyone in on a little secret that’s been motivating him this season.
In his final season, the Washington senior guard wants to make amends for past transgressions and shortcomings during what has been an unfulfilling collegiate career littered with disappointments.
Among the goals on his list, he wanted to get the first wins for UW’s four seniors at Utah, Oregon and Arizona.
Check. Check. And check.
To beat the Wildcats, the Huskies had to adjust to a new lineup that included junior forward Sam Timmins starting for Dickerson, who was nursing a sprained right ankle. And Green got the nod because Wright was unable to play.
“It’s always the next man up and that’s how we see it,” Thybulle said. “Sam was ready and he showed up. Noah fought through in the second half and started for us. And Dom did what Dom does. It’s got to be the next man up and be ready to go.”
Both teams combined for 20 turnovers and 21 field goals in a sloppy first half in which the lead changed six times and the score was tied five times.
UW led 29-28 at the break and outscored Arizona 38-32 in the second half.
“They took us a little bit out of stuff in the that first half and sped us up,” Crisp said. “We weren’t getting the shots we wanted. In the second half we just remembered to have poise and stay calm.
“We remembered the games we had in the past that’s tested us. We just got into our sets. We played at our pace. We never want to let anyone dictate what we want to do.”
The Huskies briefly fell behind 30-29 early in the second half before taking control with a 7-0 run for a 36-30 lead.
“That was huge,” Crisp said. “It’s a game of runs. We knew they were going to go on their run. We were expecting it. They took that lead and we just stayed together.”
Both teams were shorthanded – Arizona was missing starting guard Brandon Williams (knee) – but Washington received offensive production throughout the roster unlike Arizona.
The Wildcats (14-9, 5-5) were led by Justin Coleman, who had 16 points and Chase Jeter 12.
When Jeter picked up his fourth foul and went the bench with 17:38 left, Washington seized the momentum.
Ahead 47-43, the Huskies used a 9-2 run to put some distance between them and the Wildcats. Crisp capped the spurt with a long jumper that gave the Huskies a 56-45 lead.
A minute later, Thybulle delivered an early dagger – a three-pointer in the corner – for a 59-47 lead with 6:12 left that permanently silenced the crowd and sent fans heading for the exits.
Arizona never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“The big thing that we kept saying to the team was we got to be tougher than them,” Hopkins said. “They can’t be tougher than us. … We’re not going to let that happen.”
The Huskies also made it a priority to take away Arizona’s perimeter offense and held the Wildcats to 4-of-18 shooting on three-pointers, which included a shot that banked off the glass and a desperation jumper behind the arc to beat the shot clock.
“Defense travels,” Hopkins said. “Defense wins championships. It’s what we do. It’s what we hang our hat on. It’s our identity.”
The Huskies, which entered the game allowing a conference-best 60.9 points in league games, have not allowed a Pac-12 team to score more than 70 points. Washington held the Wildcats to 13 points fewer than their season average.
Arizona also finished with 20 turnovers and shot 37.7 percent from the field.
Once again, defensive ace Thybulle, who had five 15 points, three 3-pointers and two assists, delivered another scintillating performance at the top of UW’s 2-3 zone defense. He finished with five steals, five blocks and two rebounds.
“When you know you have a guy like him, we feed off his energy,” Crisp said. “He sets the tone defensively. He’s the best I’ve seen at it. We just make sure that we got his back.”
Jaylen Nowell finished 12 points, six rebounds and four assists while Nahziah Carter and Dickerson each had 10 points off the bench.
“For us to come together with all the adversity we were going through with Noah and guys being sick was huge,” Thybulle said. “It was just great to be able to pull out a win and do it together.”
Washington heads into Saturday’s 7 p.m. game at Arizona State with a seemingly insurmountable four-game lead in the Pac-12 and a chance to capture its third straight conference road series sweep.
For now, the Huskies are savoring a rare victory at McKale Center where they had been 7-31 all-time.
“This a tough place to play regardless of who is on their team or who’s hurt and who’s not,” Hopkins said. “They got a great coach. They got tradition. They got a great home court. That was a fun environment. So to be able to get a win, I was really proud of the guys.”