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Cats Outshoot Huskies, 96-87
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/05/2007
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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SEATTLE (AP) -Sure, UCLA is undefeated and No. 1 in nation.

But while the rest of the Pac-10 and country is trying to measure up to the Bruins, surging Arizona is beginning to think it is the standard against which UCLA should be comparing itself.

Freshman Chase Budinger scored 23 points and Marcus Williams and Jawaan McClellan both had 22 to lead No. 7 Arizona to its 12th consecutive victory, a 96-87 race past No. 24 Washington on Thursday night.

McClellan tied a career high and Mustafa Shakur added 21 points for Arizona (12-1, 3-0 Pac-10), which hasn't lost since a 93-90 defeat in its opener at Virginia. Since then, no team has gotten closer than Louisville's seven-point defeat Dec. 5.

``We're the standard. I don't think they are the standard,'' Williams said of the Bruins.

He said he meant no disrespect to last season's national runners-up. It's just that he's as impressed as everyone else is with his team's ability to score from every position.

Arizona shot 76 percent in the second half and 65 percent from the game. That how the Wildcats extended their longest winning streak since they won 19 in a row in 1998 before losing in the NCAA regional finals to Utah.

``That's our team right there. Our whole team can shoot,'' Budinger said.

And Arizona's shots weren't gimmes. The Wildcats went 11-of-20 from 3-point range against Washington's uncharacteristic zone defense. McClellan was 6-for-9 from deep and his consecutive 3-pointers put Arizona ahead for good with 3:37 left.

``It's unbelievable. Every time we packed it in (on defense), they let it fly,'' Washington center Spencer Hawes said of Arizona's relentless shooting.

``We'd go to box out for a rebound - and there was no reason to,'' said Hawes, who scored 16 points in 29 minutes while playing with a flu that had him with an IV in his arm for the first time in his life at halftime.

``But we still have to figure out a way to stop people,'' Arizona coach Lute Olson said, trying to keep his high-flying 'Cats grounded entering Saturday's game at resurgent Washington State (13-2, 2-1).

Quincy Pondexter, benched for the first time in his collegiate career after 13 starts, matched his career high with 25 points for Washington (10-4, 0-3), which lost its third straight. He had scored 22 points in his three previous games combined.

Pondexter had 21 points in 16 minutes of an NBA-paced first half that ended with Washington leading 51-48. He was also awed by Arizona.

``USC's a tough team, UCLA's a tough team,'' Pondexter said. ``Arizona? They're really tough. They're one of the top teams in the country.''

Williams, a Seattle native playing in front of 14 friends and family members, was 10-for-14 despite a constantly sore left wrist which he had an ice bag on after the game.

McClellan's fourth 3-pointer of the game gave Arizona a 70-69 lead with 11:38 left. After Ryan Appleby briefly gave Washington the lead back at 77-76 with a runner and pulled the Huskies within 87-86 with a fadeaway at the shot clock buzzer, McClellan responded with another 3. Arizona led 90-86 with 3:37 remaining.

Washington went the final 4:25 without a field goal and lost for the first time in eight home games against a ranked opponent.

The Huskies tried two new starters following a 22-point loss at UCLA on Sunday - freshman Phil Nelson and Appleby, a junior. Pondexter and point guard Justin Dentmon went to the bench.

It worked for the first 32 minutes, anyway.

Washington burned through a 22-4 run over 6 1/2 minutes of the first half to go up 45-31. Pondexter, who entered the game 3 1/2 minutes in, had 10 of those points. Four were spectacular: a spin between two defenders before a finger roll layup and a behind-the-back dribble in traffic and windmill lay in. Those had the roaring, sold-out crowd shaking 80-year-old Hec Edmundson Pavilion in anticipation of a reviving upset.

But much of that surge came with Shakur and Williams on the Arizona bench. When they returned, the Wildcats immediately answered with a 15-0 run to retake the lead. McClellan, who entered the game averaging 10 points in six starts, had 11 in the first half.

Olson did not substitute for the first 15 minutes of the second half, while his starters pushed back into the lead for good.

``I was amazed that the minutes that their players played,'' Brockman said. ``They're in great shape.''

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