Coming into Saturday night’s game, Arizona had won eight straight games over Washington State in Pullman, Wash., by an average of 15.8 points dating back to the 2010-11 season.
The last time Sean Miller and the Wildcats lost to the Cougars was during Miller’s first season of 2009-10 when the team lost 78-60.
The game was a battle between two physical teams looking to impose their will, which resulted in a low scoring first half with Arizona leading 29-27.
In a double-overtime thriller in which both teams struggled with their shooting, it was going to take some luck and unexpected help to pull off the victory. Arizona found just that in a 86-82 win as senior guard Terrell Brown Jr. hit a game-winning 3-point bank shot to give the Wildcats the win.
It was a game that Brown Jr. would never forget and meant more than just his final stat line of 15 points, four rebounds and two assists. Friday night, he found out that his grandfather had passed away and, with a heavy heart, went on to play the game and made that game-winning shot that seemed to hang in the air a long time before hitting off the backboard and in.
— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) January 3, 2021
Arizona struggled to shoot the ball, making just 37 percent from the field, its lowest percentage all season long. The Wildcats got a lift when the team needed it the most from freshmen Ben Mathurin and Azuolas Tubelis, who shot a combined 56 percent hitting critical shots throughout the game.
Mathurin recorded his first collegiate double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds while going 2-for-3 from behind the arc. All 11 rebounds came in the second half and overtime, in which he collected five rebounds.
Tubelis gave his team the presence it needed in the post as Arizona was in foul trouble down the stretch. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes.
Here are Mathurin and Brown Jr. talking about the gutsy road win and giving insight into what it was like to play through the hardship of Brown’s grandfather passing away:
Arizona has been one of the nation’s best rebounding teams outrebounding opponents by an average of 12 rebounds. Washington State dominated the glass early in the game, and the teams finished the first half tied 23-23. The Wildcats were challenged in that department the whole game but came out ahead, winning 53-47, proving to be a critical part of this game.
Perhaps the most crucial statistic for Arizona came at the free-throw line, where in the loss to Stanford, the team shot 52 percent. The Wildcats found their rhythm from the line against Washington State, going 25 for 32 (78 percent) while the Cougars shot 51 percent on 37 attempts (making 19).
Here’s Arizona assistant coach Jason Terry talking about the team’s gritty win and what it was like to watch Brown Jr., his Godson. hit the game-winning 3-pointer:
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.