SEATTLE – The final outcome of the basketball game being played before him was already assured, so ESPN wasn’t exactly depriving viewers of quality sporting entertainment when it decided to, for a brief moment, fix a camera on color analyst Bill Walton, who was wearing the tight-fitting, purple-and-white rowing top which he added to his wardrobe earlier in the day during a visit to the University of Washington’s crew facility. Thankfully, he was also wearing pants.
The what-will-he-do-next nature of Walton’s broadcasting assignments has already elevated the legendary ex-center to must-see status – depending on one’s tolerance for historical references and hyperbole – and the comedic value of a 6-foot-11 human dressed in a skin-tight tanktop was not lost on those within view of press row at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on Friday night.
The game, also a laugher, was worthy of the sideshow.
Arizona, ranked 7th in both major polls, did mostly as it pleased against the reeling Washington Huskies, who simply never had a chance during this 86-62 rout before an announced crowd of 6,999.
So the Huskies, 14-10 overall and 3-9 in Pac-12 play, are now mired in the longest losing streak – six games – of coach Lorenzo Romar’s 13-year UW career. Five of those losses have come since the Jan. 26 dismissal of 7-foot center Robert Upshaw, the nation’s top shot-blocker, but Arizona’s stock of 5-star talent with NBA size likely would have been too daunting for the Huskies to match under any circumstance.
“They’re a really good defensive team,” Romar said afterward, visibly frustrated by the unprecedented bind in which his team finds itself. “We took shots under duress a lot of times. I think their length bothered us in the first half and we couldn’t generate enough defense to stop them for us to get a whole lot of transition.”
The Wildcats (21-3, 9-2 in Pac-12) used a 21-2 run to open a 31-11 lead in the first 12-plus minutes – mostly with dunks, layups and more layups – played the rest of the game with a double-digit lead, and led by as many as 27 points before it was over.
“It’s one of those games where you’ve got to stay in it the whole game – the entire game,” said junior guard Andrew Andrews, whom Romar praised afterward for scoring 18 points and grabbing a career-best 11 rebounds. “So it comes down to a little bit of us just on the defensive end giving them easy baskets to begin with, and they kind of separated from us.”
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