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Husky Men's Basketball

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

January 24, 2009 at 5:18 PM

UCLA post-game

It was a loss to UCLA almost 25 months ago that knocked the Huskies out of the rankings.
It was almost certainly a win against UCLA today that will get them back in for the first time since then.
“We just completed a round of weekend heavyweight fights here,” said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. “The USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins are two heavyweights. And we had to have a heavyweight response.”
And if these weren’t quite knockouts, they were unanimous decisions as the Huskies made it clear they are deserving to be included with the Pac-10’s elites.
And come Monday, I also fully expect them to be included among the nation’s elites, as well, likely back in the AP Top 25.
UW hasn’t been there since Dec. 2006, falling out after going to USC and UCLA and losing both games tot kick off Pac-10 play.
“We’ve got it back to where it was when we were freshmen,” said UW forward Jon Brockman. “We went through some tough times (the last two years). We’ve got to keep it like this.”
Indeed, it’s still early — there are 11 Pac-10 games to go, six on the road.
But this was another win that indicated this team has staying power.
Once again, they fell behind early, at 9-1, before coming back.
“That’s a good sign of maturity,” Brockman said. “When we got down 9-1, we just said ‘we’ve got to stick to the game plan.’ Just keep playing and we’ll dig ourselves back into it.”
The Huskies did just that, crawling within one at halftime, then pulling away late with a 19-9 run in the last 6:13, scoring 12 in a row in one span to stretch a 67-66 lead to 79-66.
“We were out in the darkness for a while,” said guard Justin Dentmon. “But the light is in our closet now.”
Romar lauded his players later for a total team effort, and indeed the heroes were many:
Isaiah Thomas savagely outdueled Jrue Holiday in a battle of highly-hyped freshmen, outscoring him 24-8, hitting three straight threes midway through the second half to give UW some needed separation. “As a scorer and shooter, you have to just keep shooting,” said Thomas, who was 0-4 on threes in the first half. “You can’t get down on yourself.”
— Brockman rebounded from a horrid offensive game against USC to score 18 points, hitting 8-10 free throws. “I just tried to put everything (that happened against USC) behind me,” he said. “It’s happened before and it will happen again. The key is how you bounce back. I wanted to have a great game to bounce back from that.”
— Dentmon shined late, scoring 10 of UW’s last 16 points and finishing with 16 in just 17 minutes due to foul trouble. Romar said Dentmon’s game today might have been his best moment as a Husky, to bounce back from the foul trouble and keep his head in the game. “It would have been easy for him to check out mentally, but he didn’t,” Romar said.
Venoy Overton had 10 points and also was a key in UW’s defensive effort that shut down UCLA’s perimeter game in the second half — the Bruins shot 12-31 in the second half overall and 5-15 on three-pointers.
Justin Holiday had a team-high four assists in 20 minutes and also hit a big three-pointer at the end of the first half.
Darnell Gant played 26 minutes of energetic defense inside and Quincy Pondexter had 10 points in 26 minutes.
“Everybody who played contributed,” Romar said.
And Monday, everybody who played and contributed should find themselves back in the Top 25.
A FEW MORE NOTES
— It may be time to stop referring to UW as a bad free-throw shooting team after a third straight game of 80 percent or better. UW was 36-43 today to UCLA’s 10-15, a huge reason for the win. That obviously caught the attention of UCLA coach Ben Howland, who said “they got to the line a lot more than we did.” Howland’s only real complaint, however, seemed to be the technical on Alfred Aboya that was apparently for taunting. Howland said “I know Alfred well enough to know that I’m sure that was just misread by the offficial.”
— Howland also complained a little about the play where Aboya suffered a cut over his eye. “Brockman turned right into him and ripped open his head and it was a foul on us,” Howland said.
— But overall, Howland said it was the ability of UW’s guards to penetrate that made the difference in all the free throws. “A lot of it was on dribble penetration,” he said. “They beat us off the dribble and just got to the rim. Their guards got to the line 27 times. … They were very quick, very athletic. Dentmon is having a great year. Thomas is a very special player.”
— The Holiday brothers didn’t spend much time guarding each other. But there was apparently one funny exchange when the two were lined up next to each other on a free throw. Justin said brother Jrue told him that “if you don’t go hard, I won’t go hard. I was like ‘okay, cool.””
— Justin Holiday said he heard the “Justin’s better” chant and that “I expected it” though he wasn’t sure he liked any criticism of his brother. “But it was okay,” he said.
— The 86 points by UW is the most allowed by UCLA since Memphis got 88 earlier in the 2005-06 season.
— Judging by some of the comments I’m getting, guess some of you missed it in the game thread, but I made it clear that if they won this game, they’d be in my Top 25 for this week. So UW will be in my ballot tomorrow, just a matter of how high.
All for now.

Comments | Topics: top 25, UCLA

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