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February 3, 2007
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TUCSON, Ariz. ? Arizona had been looking for an inside presence and its once-reliable shooting touch.
The No. 20 Wildcats found both in an 84-54 victory Saturday over Washington.
"This was critical we played a game like this," Arizona coach Lute Olson said.
Jordan Hill provided the big body inside by leading the Wildcats (15-7, 6-5 Pac-10) with a career-high 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
Meanwhile, Arizona shot 57 percent from the field to avoid its first three-game home losing streak since 1983-84. The Wildcats had shot only 42 percent from the field since beating Washington 96-87 on Jan. 4.
The Wildcats, who hit only 22 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in the last eight games, went 5-of-12 (42.6 percent) on 3-pointers against the Huskies.
"We saw firsthand earlier in the year their ability to shoot. They're a good shooting team," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "They have just been going through a slump. Our plan was to keep them from getting open looks early and we didn't do a good job of that."
At the end of a disappointing 2-2 homestand, the Wildcats played as if they desperately needed a victory. They had lost six of eight games, the team's worst prolonged stretch since Olson's first season, 1983-84.
Looking to shake up his team, Olson started Hill in place of slumping guard Jawann McClellan. It paid off when McClellan came off the bench for the first time this year to score 15 points.
McClellan rediscovered his shooting stroke by scoring 10 of his points during a 20-4 spurt that gave Arizona a 37-20 lead with 4:05 left in the first half.
"We need some kind of a spark off the bench and Jawann did that, and he is happy doing that," said Olson, who is likely to keep McClellan in a reserve role when the Wildcats visit Oregon State and Oregon next week. "He knows he is an emotional guy who can get other people going."
The Huskies never recovered from McClellan's burst.
"Effort was our problem," Washington's Spencer Hawes said. "We were not going as well as we have been. It showed.
"That is what separated us, how much passion they came out with," Hawes said. "It took its toll, not at the beginning, but as the game wore on that started to catch up to us."
Arizona led 45-26 at halftime and was never threatened in the second half.
"It was good we started to hit so early," Budinger said. "It was contagious. Once one or two guys start hitting some shots, everybody starts hitting their shots. That really helped us."
The Wildcats locked up the game with a 13-0 run midway through the second half, sparked by a reverse lay-in by Radenovic with 13:19 remaining. Hill scored six points and blocked a shot during the run.
Washington normally controls the paint with Brockman and Hawes, but not on Saturday. The Huskies were outrebounded (42-25) for only the second time this season.
"Jordan's presence there makes a huge, huge difference," Olson said. "He had five blocks, but I bet he changed 10 or more shots just with his presence."
Washington, which averages 82 points per game, had trouble against Arizona's zone defense, shooting only 38 percent.
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