Photo credit: Seattle Times – Cliff DesPeaux
The chilling part of tonight’s 82-64 victory over eighth-ranked New Mexico is the ease at which Washington dismantled the Lobos to advance to the Sweet 16.
The Huskies didn’t play their A-game. They were solid, but not exceptional. It’s impossible to read too much into the statistics because the numbers are skewed. Washington led by 23 points (64-41) with 11:13 left and essentially went into cruise control.
Isaiah Thomas and Justin Holiday didn’t play the final four minutes. Matthew Bryan-Amaning came out with 3:19 left and Quincy Pondexter was also on the bench in the final three minutes.
And yet, despite not playing their best, this game wasn’t close and the Huskies are streaking into the NCAA tournament third round of 16 on a nine-game run.
Washington had the perfect game plan. They Huskies shut down Darington Hobson and let point guard Dairese Gary go crazy.
A UW assistant told me: “If Gary is scoring 2s and he has the ball in his hands, then he’s not passing to their three-point shooters.”
The Huskies could live with Gary scoring a game-high 25 points as long as Hobson, the Mountain West POY, had 11 and Roman Martinez, UNM’s three-point specialist, had 10. No one else was in double-figure scoring.
The Huskies also created a pace they knew the Lobos couldn’t sustain. It was a magnificent plan. UW forced everything. It scored after made baskets in the first half and seduced New Mexico into playing at a fast pace.
Despite the Washington’s domination, Hobson wasn’t impressed. Holiday held him to 11 harmless points – three in the first half when the outcome was still in doubt – in 33 ineffective minutes.
”They played the best game of their life tonight,” Hobson said. ”They’re not even that good. They just played a good game tonight.”
I think Hobson is delusional or he’s in denial. Either way, the Huskies are dancing on to Syracuse, NY. The game is 4:20 p.m. Thursday.
Coach Lorenzo Romar hasn’t finalized the travel plans, but the Huskies will likely leave Tuesday after a practice in Seattle.
Photo credit: Seattle Times – Dean Rutz
— Holiday (above) did it again. He locked on the opponent’s best player and made him ineffective. To Hobson’s credit, he was dealing with a left wrist injury. Still, Holiday surrendered a long three-pointer and little else.
He also filled up the stat sheet again. Holiday had seven rebounds, five points, four assists, three blocks and three steals in 27 minutes. That’s a full game.
— Pondexter was solid scoring 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting. He also had five rebounds.
— Thomas needed 14 shots to get 15 points, but he was most effective as a three-point shooter and play-maker. Thomas knocked down two treys in the first half that took the fight out of the Lobos. He also dropped off seven assists.
— Bryan-Amaning played a game similar to Pondexter. He wasn’t great, but solid. He converted 7 of 10 field goals for 15 points. He also had nine rebounds while holding A.J. Hardeman to four points and five rebounds in 31 minutes.
— Elston Turner sank a three-pointer in nine of 11 games. Tonight he had two and they the last one put UW up 44-30. Turner also made an impact defensively. When Holiday left the game, Turner defended Hobson.
At one point, he stripped Hobson which led to a Pondexter dunk. It was a play similar to Turner’s near steal in the final seconds of the Pac-10 championship game against California.
— A few words on Hobson. I don’t think he’s ready for the NBA. Full disclosure: That was the fourth time I’ve seem him play this season and I’ve seem him play much better. Still, in the biggest game of the season, he disappeared. His body language was awful. He pouted. He complained to the officials about Holiday’s hands-on defense and he committed four turnovers. If he leaves early for the NBA, he’s making a mistake.
— UW committed five turnovers, which tied a season low. The Huskies held New Mexico to just seven assists on 26 field goals.
— And finally, several Huskies said they have no rooting interest in tomorrow’s game between No. 2 West Virginia and No. 10 Missouri. Many pundits believe the Tigers have a good chance at pulling off the upset and if they do, then that would set up a rematch with Missouri coach Mike Anderson who led UAB to a 102-100 upset defeat over UW in first round in 2004.
Missouri plays an up-tempo style, which is tailor made for the Huskies.
Photo credit: Seattle Times – Dean Rutz