Huskies open Pac-12 play with a flurry despite Holt-like defense


While most fans were glued to the AlaNO defense bowl, there was another Husky game going on at the same time that had only slightly more defense, but in the end showed why the Washington basketball program is in a much better place than the football program.

Despite a rocky non-conference season where the Huskies came in at 6-5, losers of five of their last nine; there still seemed to be plenty of confidence for the team to rebound and have a strong conference season.

The Huskies exploded out of the gates to a 10-2 lead, eventually doubling up the Beavers at one point at 40-20.

It wasn’t pretty the entire game though, the Beavers had plenty of mini-runs that kept them in the game, after leading by 20 with five minutes left in the first half, the Huskies let Oregon State get on a roll to pull within 11 points at half.

The second half was tight throughout, but the Huskies kept a roughly 7-point buffer, not letting Oregon State get much closer, but not able to pull away.

That is until the Beavers made their final push of the game, going from down 10 with 5:40 to play, to down just three points with 2:55 to play at 83-80.

Tony Wroten had enough of the Beavers though and decided to put them away once and for all. He took the ball up court and though it was clear Lorenzo Romar and the coaches wanted him to take time off the clock,  he had other plans and blew past two defenders at mid-court, then made an acrobatic lay-in past Jared Cunningham getting fouled on the play and adding the free throw to give Washington an 88-80 lead.

After Oregon State pulled within three points late in the game; they never scored again, Washington went on a 12-0 run to finish the game 95-80.

Player-by-Player look:

Tony Wroten:His stat-line looks incredible and he sure was magnificent; 26 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and just 2 turnovers. Those are Pac-12 Player of the year type numbers and in the crunch time he sure looked the part. It may have been his most complete and in control game of the season, yet he still had two or three ‘wow’ passes. There were two or three times where I said to myself ‘what are you doing Tony’, when he tried to do too much with a loose ball, or fumbled an inbounds pass for a turnover; still he looked dominant and was a huge reason for the Huskies victory.

Abdul Gaddy:He’s so smooth that when he drives to the lane, which he did on a few occasions in the game, you just wonder how anyone could stop him. It just looks effortless at times and when he plays with the confidence he played with Thursday, he makes the Huskies tough to beat. He scored 13 points and added 6 assists, a line that he should, and could begin to average on a per-game basis.

Terrence Ross: He was active on the defensive end, but on offense, he was nowhere to be found. Two of his ten points came on a jump-shot with nine seconds to play. Something is wrong with Ross, as Wroten has flourished, he has struggled, he needs to regain his confidence on offense.

Aziz N’Diaye: This may have been his best offensive game I’ve seen so far; only ten points, but he looked like a polished big man. He had two huge dunks including one put-back dunk that showed more athleticism than I’ve ever seen from him. He also had a low-post game with a baby-hook shot that was working against shorter defenders. He did leave with a hurt knee for a few minutes, but returned and appeared to be fine.

Darnell Gant: I’ve made the case for him to sit on the bench as the sixth man, but after Thursday, maybe he’s the seventh man. He did nothing on either side of the ball and looked lost throughout the game. He had three fouls early on and that forced him to the bench. He’s struggling and doesn’t deserve to be starting, if Romar wants size, he has a better option.

Desmond Simmons: This kid is good, I don’t mean kind of good; he is really, really good. Great example of the player he is: he missed a three-point shot, but got back on defense during a fast transition to block the shot and get the rebound making up for his miss. He finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots. He was a fire-starter on defense for the Huskies, but the great thing is, he also plays offense.

C.J. Wilcox: Coming off the bench didn’t seem to be much of an issue for Wilcox, he finished with 15 points and still played 30 minutes. His shot was off, 1-5 from outside, but he found other ways to score. He used the dribble drive to get shots from in-close and found ways to the hoop. He may not be a starter anymore, but he will be huge for the Huskies going forward.

The environment for the game: Having live look ins to the Alamo Bowl was one of the coolest thing’s I’ve encountered at a game. Whenever it was on, all fans were glued to the screen, when plays and scores flashed on the screen, fans went crazy. A Go Huskies chant erupted following a Husky touchdown. When Wroten was shooting a free throw the Huskies scored a touchdown and the fans went crazy, he was clearly not very happy about fans making noise while he shot, though he did make the free throw. It’s also interesting to note how many Baylor Oregon State fans were in the building to root against the Huskies on the jumbo-tron. Overall I’d give the athletic department an A+ for how they handled things in that situation.

Final Word: The Husky defense is clearly still lacking, four Beavers scored 14+ points, including Joe Burton who scored 18 points on 9-12 shooting. That’s nearly double his average, he isn’t a scorer and he had no problems against Washington. The help defense was weak, the outside defense wasn’t much better and the Huskies couldn’t stop Oregon State from going on runs to stay in the game. In the end though, the basketball team did something Nick Holt couldn’t do, held its opponent from scoring for more than 2:55. That closed out the Beavers and gave the Huskies their first win in conference play.

Follow Mitchell on Twitter @AMitchellReport