The Cats needed a perfect game to win and this certainly wasn’t it.

40% shooting, 65% from the free throw line, getting out-rebounded by eight, and allowing 49 points in the second half. It definitely looked like an inexperienced team on the road against a veteran one.

It wasn’t the highest level of basketball (the Pac-10 is clearly down if these are the top two teams) but it was an intense contest. Washington took care of business and now the real work begins for Arizona.

It’s good to get bumped around and take some bruises (as well as give some back). But the key is using the bruises to get stronger. The schedule doesn’t ease up: at Washington State, then UCLA and USC at home. The Cats need two, and taking all three would be a big statement.

You can’t win three if you don’t win the first one. Wazzu coasted against ASU and will have plenty left in the tank on Saturday. If the UA can leave Seattle in the rearview mirror and play well against the Cougars it’ll be a sign this team is maturing.

The young Cats now know what a battle for first place feels like. It won’t be long before Sean Miller has them back in another one.