Dawgs Sham-Rock the Sun Devils 79-62

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by Griffin Bennett

The first 5 minutes of the game were shaky and the next 5 were touch-and-go. After that, it was an onslaught of hustle and smart defense. With 6:35 left in the first half, the Huskies went on an 11-1 run that separated the game for good. The terrible road struggles from the Oregon series seemed to have returned during the early minutes. The Huskies were down 15-7 with 14:10 left in the first half while sustaining early foul trouble and an injury to Scott Suggs. It wasn’t looking pretty. Romar called a timeout and switched to a zone defense that shut down and confused the Sun Devils. With Rihards Kuksiks out at the last minute with a sprained ankle, ASU had lost  it’s top three point shooter and was unable to overcome the zone. The Huskies won the game 79-62.

After a quick skirmish between Ty Abbott and Isaiah Thomas after the start of the first half, the Sun Devils will to win quickly died out and Coach Sendek put in the reserves early. Just like in Seattle, the Sun Devils’  big men could not handle MBA. Kyle Cain, the 6’7″ freshman, started out guarding MBA and Sendek learned quickly that that was not the answer. Fortunately for Washington, neither were the 7+ footers of Pateev and Bachynski.

Positives:

  • Matthew Bryan-Amaning – Another outstanding performance against a short front line. He led the game with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Impressive night. While that may have been expected of him after his 30 point outing last time, his 8 of 11 free throws were a great sign.
  • Venoy Overton – Perhaps his first back-to-back great performances of the year. He led the team in minutes (30) and stuffed the line with 10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and only 1 turnover. He is starting to hit on all cylinders and peaking at the perfect time. His defense is regaining strength and he could the difference in March. I’m excited.
  • C.J. Wilcox – My MVP of the night. Here is his stat line: 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 6-11 FG, and 4-9 three pointers. That is outstanding. He also had zero turnovers and 1 foul. His defense has improved immensely and might be even better than he was at the beginning of the year. Keep it going, young man.
  • Assists and Turnovers – They did exactly what they needed to do. They assisted on 21 of their 26 field goals made and kept their turnovers below the magic number of 10. A great ball possession night after a rough start.
  • Free Throws – 21 of 30 for 70%. I’ll take that every single night.

Ehhhh:

  • Isaiah Thomas – On a night where his three pointer wasn’t falling (2 of 8), he contributed in other ways. He ended with 11 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1 turnover. The shocking stat of the night might be Isaiah only going to the line once, and it was for a technical foul.
  • Rebounding – The Huskies did win the board battle 41 to 38, but I expected a differential of more than 3. The Huskies played a lot of zone, however, which does not help in the rebounding department. Some foul trouble from Aziz and Holiday didn’t help either.
  • Justin Holiday – He was on the boarder line of being a negative. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt because he played only 22 minutes, but it was because of some dumb fouls early. He finished with 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and zero turnovers.

Negatives:

  • Aziz N’Diaye – I had big hopes for the big man tonight. He spazzed out early on an easy dunk and got in foul trouble… again. 5 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks against that poor of competition is not good.
  • Terrence Ross – I know he has a huge effect on the game outside of statistics, and especially on the defensive end, but he played 24 minutes and couldn’t find his role on offense. He ended with 2 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. He shot 0 for 5 from the field including 0 for 3 from deep. His only points came off of 2 free throws. He has had better games but seems to be lost when it comes to his role on offense. He played only 1 minute less than Wilcox and they had dramatic differences with their results.
  • Scott Suggs’ MCL – His MCL had a terrible night, playing only 3 minutes and straining itself. According to a source, Suggs’ MCL will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks. That’s another blow to the Huskies guard depth, but he should be back by March.

Overall:

While it wasn’t perfect, I would have been happy with any win. Now the Huskies can turn their full attention to the Arizona clash on Saturday. I liked what I saw and a players, like Wilcox and Overton, are peaking at just the right time. The Suggs injury reallly hurts as he has started almost every Pac-10 game this season. Who should replace him in the starting line-up? That sounds like a poll question.

I am already excited for Saturday’s game and I will be in full force at some bar in the Seattle-area. I’m excited to see what an underdog Husky team will look like on the road. It could actually be a big weight off of their shoulders after being such heavy favorites (except for WSU) on the road recently. Let’s hope we all have a great Saturday night. Bow Down.