by: Griffin Bennett
After an incredibly disappointing last five days, the Huskies picked up the pieces as they defeat UT-Arlington in the first round of the NIT. In the process they recorded their best statistical non-conference win of the year. Maybe now the Huskies can use that win to put the nightmare of the past week behind them and aim towards an NIT championship.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins but the Huskies closed it out late as they outscored the Mavericks 14-7 in the final 6 minutes. For the first time in a while, the Huskies got beat soundly on the boards which led UT-A to stay close as they recorded 12 second chance points to UW’s 3.
After the Huskies shot 50% from the field and yet were only tied at half time, I will admit that I got worried. Fortunately, the Huskies picked right up where the left off in the second half and finished the game shooting 57.4%. Abdul Gaddy was able to shoot well as he shot all over the 5’9 Shaq White-Miller as he helped the Huskies immensely Tuesday night.
UT-A’s LaMarcus Reed III was as good as advertised and got to the Huskies from behind the arc as well as in the paint. He finished with 20 points but 10 were off free throws as he only shot 4-14 on the night.
Not to be outdone, Terrence Ross was his ever-smooth self and scored 23 points on 9 of 15 shooting. His step-back-left jumper is the most beautiful move that I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what it is about it. The pageantry of its rhythm and delicateness with which it touches the net gives this basketball die-hard chills every time. Now if only he would shoot it more often.
The Huskies started slow and Coach Lorenzo Romar was willing enough to admit it after the game:
“I don’t think we weren’t ready to go. I thought we were ready to play but I thought we were able to turn it up. We talked about it, but I don’t think we really understood how scrappy they were. Once we got that feeling, that hit, I think we adjusted.”
Aziz N’diaye got in early foul trouble, again, which severely hurt the Huskies post presence early in the second half. N’diaye recorded his 4th foul with 15 minutes left in the second half and Austin Seferian-Jenkins entered the game. He caused just enough mayhem in the block to stifle the attacking Mavericks which was a huge help.
- Terrence Ross – Ultra efficient and ultra silky. His 23 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steal were beautiful. If he brought that kind of game every night, the Huskies would be playing in the Big Dance.
- Tony Wroten and Abdul Gaddy – I’m putting them together because they finally played beautifully together. They shared the ball while also taking their shots when they were open. The combined for 19 points, 14 assists, only 5 turnovers, and shot 7 of 10 from the field.
- Darnell Gant – With Aziz in foul trouble, the senior came up big. He hit the dagger three pointer to put it out of reach with under three minutes to go. Along with that, he scored 13 points and grabbed 10 boards.
- Shooting – It was a great night from the field for the Dawgs as they finished with the aforementioned 57.4% from the field and 36.4% from three.
- Another Slow Start – Motivation was a key for this game and the Huskies started the first half flat, once again. It didn’t cost them in this one, but if the Huskies want to go deep into the NIT, they won’t be able to survive playing like that early.
- Aziz N’diaye – STOP JUMPING FOR BLOCKS! Why do 7 footers do this? It’s so infuriating. It could have cost this team the game down the stretch as N’diaye couldn’t keep his feet on the floor and recorded 4 fouls in the first 25 minutes.
- Rebounding – The Huskies lost this battle 37-27 while also losing on the O-boards 17-4. It was a total team effort for the Mavericks as no player had over 7 rebounds. Mainly, the Huskies seemed to refuse to block out in the first half which caused Romar to pull individuals who were not helping on the block.
We’re still playing basketball. That’s the good part. It was good to see that the Huskies cared about this one and finally turned on their full energy in the second half.
It wasn’t anywhere near perfect but that was a good UT-A team, don’t kid yourself. They would have been right in the heart of the Pac-12 standings. As I said in the opening, the Huskies may now be behind the heartache of being left out of the NCAA Tournament and will not focus on the games remaining.
Seeing Ross, Wroten, and Gaddy all coexists perfectly for the first time in awhile was a great sign. Could the Huskies be able to peak this late in the season? It wouldn’t be unheard of.
Northwestern is next on Friday night and they are no pushover. Kenpom.com had them ranked 9 spots higher than Washington to end the season and are extremely dangerous. They are the 18th most efficient offense in basketball, don’t turn the ball over, and shoot it incredibly well from three. This next one won’t be easy.
The Huskies will have home court advantage and hopefully more loyal Dawgs will show up for this one. I’m done with the post-Selection-Sunday moping. Let’s prove the the Huskies should have been in the big one and make a run to New York City. Bow Down.