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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

February 21, 2008 at 11:47 PM

Arizona post-game

In the face of a lot of evidence the last month or so that had suggested otherwise, UW coaches and players continued to maintain this is an NCAA Tournament-caliber team.
Suddenly, they are backing up their words, winning for the third game in four tries tonight, a stretch that includes wins over UCLA, and now Arizona, at home.
The scenario I wrote about yesterday, where UW could get into fifth place by the end of the weekend, is well within reach — the Huskies are now tied for eighth with Oregon at 6-8, a half-game behind Arizona, Arizona State and Cal, all 6-7.
“Three of the last four games, we’ve put forth the type of effort that allows you to win a lot of ball games,” said UW coach Lorenzo Romar.
And some of the numbers he referred to as evidence to were bad ones.
Romar noted later that Ryan Appleby (2-10) and Justin Dentmon (0-10) combined to go 2-20, yet UW still won. The Huskies also were just 3-16 from the three-point line, yet still won.
The Huskies, he said, are “winning the right way,” with defense, and hustle and energy, things that can be counted on every night.
The play of Venoy Overton will get much of the attenion in this one, as it should (my story, which will be on-line soon, is among the many likely to focus on his night).
Overton was indeed a revelation with 19 points in 19 minutes and some sterling defense on Jerryd Bayless, helping hold him to 6-19 shooting.
But Overton was hardly alone on the defensive front as UW held the Wildcats to 21-54 shooting, 38.9 percent, 10 percentage points lower than their overall season average and eight below their Pac-10 season average. And that better defense is the key to UW’s late-season resurgence as the Huskies have held their last four opponents to 43 percent shooting or lower (Oregon was 42.9 percent overall but hit 14-25 three-pointers).
“Playing better defense has allowed us to gain more confidence,” Romar said.
The plan tonight was to play as aggressively as possible against an Arizona team that is only about six deep in terms of players the Wildcats really want to play much.
“They had a great game plan,” said Arizona coach Kevin O’Neill. “They looked at our team and did what I would to do our team. They’ve got 10, 11 guys (actually, only nine played tonight for the Huskies) that they really just keep rotating in and out. There are no consequences for them — we’ve only got one penetrating guard. We ran a lot of stuff, ball screens and all that, and we just couldn’t generate enough offense.”
The Huskies forced 17 Arizona turovers while also doing a nice job of taking care of the ball on their end, losing just eight turnovers of their own, tying a season-low that last occurred against Pitt.
So for another night, the dream lives on.
UPDATE — Here are my stories on the game. First, the gamer, which focuses on Overton; and second, the notebook, with a lead item on the free throw improvement. The 22 made free throws are the most for UW since hitting 27-37 against Utah in the second game of the season (which obviously proved to be no indication whatsoever of what was to come). The second-half shooting percentage of 76.9 percent is better than UW has done for any entire game except for an 18-22 performance in a lost cause of a game at Oklahoma State. There were 51 fouls in the game, the most in any Pac-10 game this season involving UW (there were 52 called in the Syracuse game).

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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