Lorenzo Romar knows Aaron Gordon well. The Washington head coach is a family friend who attempted to recruit the freshman forward to Seattle. Alas, he chose Arizona over Washington and Kentucky.
Nine months later, Gordon provided the go-ahead spark to deal Romar another blow, this time on the basketball court.
The 6-9 forward had a hand in three key baskets at the midway point of the second half Saturday afternoon and the top-ranked Wildcats never relinquished the lead in a 71-62 win over the Huskies at McKale Center.
Gordon, who shot 8 of 11 from the field, scored 12 of his 18 points after halftime and added 11 rebounds to finish with a double-double. The Wildcats (15-0, 2-0 Pac-12 Conference) are now within a victory of matching the program's best start, accomplished in 1932.
Trailing just 50-49 after a Kaleb Tarczewski 3-point play, Gordon scored on a layup, provided a right-handed putback dunk after a Tarczewski miss and assisted on Nick Johnson's dunk. That sequence was part of a 9-2 run that turned a four-point deficit into three-point advantage with 9:19 to play.
Trailing 60-54 with 5:44 remaining, the Huskies (9-6, 1-1 Pac-12) pulled within two on a pair of C.J. Wilcox free throws but would get no closer. The Wildcats closed the final 3:23 on an 11-4 run.
Wilcox scored 20 to pace UW, which turned the ball over 15 times and allowed 20 points off its miscues.
Johnson finished with a game-high 24 for Arizona, which won despite shooting just 42.1 percent.
The result erased a gritty effort from the Huskies, who became just the fifth team to deal the Wildcats a halftime deficit. After connecting on 55.6 percent of its shots and limiting Arizona to just four offensive rebounds and four second-chance in the opening half, UW made just 10 of 33 attempts after the break and lost the rebounding battle, 38-34.
The Wildcats have yet to lose the battle on the boards through 15 games.
After allowing just two made field goals and seven points in the entire first half Thursday against Washington State, the Wildcats found out quickly that there would be no repeat against the Huskies. UW raced out to a 7-2 lead and had three baskets in the first 2:31.
UA was able to get to the rim early, collecting dunks on four of its first six field goals. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's finish at the 12:17 mark put the Wildcats on top for the first time, 16-15.
From there, the defense took over as Johnson's steal - one of 10 first-half UW turnovers - and 360-degree dunk pushed the lead to 27-21. Prior to that, the junior also had a 3-pointer, layup and another dunk to account for nine consecutive UA points.
But Washington answered with a 10-2 run, capped by Darrin Johnson's basket, to take a 31-29 lead with 2:15 left.
The Huskies took a 35-33 lead into halftime.
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