NCAA Basketball

No. 5 Arizona wipes out Washington State

(TSX / STATS) -- Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen is an unusual player, a 7-footer who shoots nearly 50 percent from 3-point range.

But to bust a four-game slump, he needed to get closer to the basket.

Markkanen, a freshman from Finland, got tough in the paint with

a double-double Thursday night, and point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored a career-high 20 points to lead the short-handed No. 5 Wildcats past Washington State 78-59 in Pullman, Wash.

Markkanen made 7 of 13 shots from the field after making only five field goals in his previous four games. Markkanen, who entered the night averaging a team-high 15.2 points and shooting 47.5 percent from behind the arc, scored 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double.

Six of his rebounds were on the offensive end.

"Lauri has been a bit off the map recently," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "To his credit, you get it back by what you do every day and not by waving a magic wand. His process has been great.

"One thing he did tonight was he established himself from the 2-point, in and around the basket, got second shots. For as big as he is, he can't just be a 3-point shooter. I think he really came into the game with the right mentality."

Arizona (24-3, 13-1 Pac-12) stayed a game ahead of Oregon in the conference race. Washington State (11-15, 4-10) lost its fifth consecutive game.

Jackson-Cartwright made his first start since late November, replacing Kadeem Allen, who was out because of a dislocated right pinky finger. Jackson-Cartwright made 4 of 5 3-point attempts en route to breaking his previous career high of 16, set against UCLA on Feb. 12, 2016.

"Kadeem Allen is so valuable to our team. Without him, we lose our heart and soul," Miller said.

"I thought Parker had one of his best games at Arizona. It says a lot about him that he responded when he was called upon to play."

In addition to not having Allen, Arizona lost center Dusan Ristic, who limped out of the game with 4:40 to go in the first half and did not return. He sprained his left ankle, according to a school spokesman.

Washington State was led by guard Ike Iroegbu, who scored 17 points. Forward Robert Franks added 11 off the bench.

The Wildcats dominated in the paint all game, producing a 42-28 edge on the glass and a 17-4 advantage in second-chance points.

"I told them in the locker room, I'm going to wear my suits and I'm going to rant and rave, because I'm not lowering my standards," said WSU third-year coach Ernie Kent.

"No. We're going to win here. This is going to be a first-class program. And you either come up to that level or get the hell out of the way."

Arizona guard Rawle Alkins scored 13 points, and guard Allonzo Trier had eight points and 12 rebounds -- all defensive.

The Wildcats led by nine at halftime and were never challenged in the second half.

"We missed eight point-blank layups in the first half and we gave up 13 second-chance points by just not blocking out and not rebounding," Kent said. "We're not talented enough. Those are mental breakdowns."

Markkanen was just 5 of 25 from the field in the previous four games, but Arizona got him the ball down low early to help him break his slump. He was just 1 of 4 from behind the arc Thursday.

Washington State led for most of the first 13 minutes before going cold from the field. Arizona grabbed a 26-25 lead on Markkanen's two free throws with 6:47 to go in the half, part of a 19-6 surge before the break.

Jackson-Cartwright ended the half with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for a 40-31 lead.

NOTES: Arizona PG Kadeem Allen (dislocated finger) hasn't been ruled out of playing Saturday at Washington. The team's best perimeter defender, he also is averaging 9.5 points and 3.2 assists. ... Arizona has won 12 in a row against Washington State. The Cougars' last victory in the series was on Feb. 6, 2010, in Pullman. ... Cougars C Conor Clifford, who was out of the starting lineup Sunday for the first time this season, started against Arizona in place of Jeff Pollard. Clifford had 19 points in the first meeting against the Wildcats, but he was held scoreless Thursday. ... Washington State senior F Josh Hawkinson scored seven points to give him 1,310 for his career, moving him into 13th on the school's all-time list. ... Washington State will host Arizona State on Saturday.

Updated February 17, 2017

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