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Husky Men's Basketball

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

March 3, 2011 at 10:22 PM

Joshua Smith on C.J. Wilcox: “The guy was like Ray Allen”

wilcoxinsidepic04.jpg
Photo credit: Seattle Times – Dean Rutz
Look at the picture (above) and explain to me why there’s not a UCLA player in the shot. Seems rather inexplicable considering the kind of night C.J. Wilcox had during Washington’s 70-63 victory.
Coach Lorenzo Romar put it best when he said: “You can not fall asleep on him or he’s going to move to that spot. And if he’s playing with guys who are looking for him a lot of times he’s going to get open.”
It didn’t matter if Wilcox was open or if he was fouled like he was late in the second half when the shot clock was expiring, but he managed to get a long jumper off over UCLA’s Jerime Anderson and Joshua Smith despite being fouled. Nearly everything Wilcox threw at the rim in the second half went in.
“I was just shooting blindly,” Wilcox said. “I couldn’t see the rim because they were closing out so hard. I’d just shoot and hope that it would fall.”
After a scoreless six-minute outing in the first half when he missed two shots, Wilcox drained 7 of 8 in the second half. He sank four three-pointers and connected on 6 of 6 free throws.
“The way he was shooting, he was like Ray Allen out there,” Smith said. “He was hitting from all over the place.”
Wilcox finished with a career-high 24 points. After the game, fans chanted: “C-J, C-J.” He was mobbed by his teammates and showered with praise by Romar.
“You talk about what’s at stake tonight and he comes in and gets 24 in the second half, that’s a performance I’ll never forget,” Romar said. “That’s one of the greatest performances maybe in the history of the program.”
On Wednesday, Romar had to admonish Wilcox during practice and made him run a line because he didn’t take a shot during a drill when he was open.
“It only happens to the good shooter,” Romar said. “I just talked to some guys about maybe shooting too much. And that’s an issue. … And the guy that is hitting if you don’t shoot you’re just as bad as the others.”
Without Wilcox, the Huskies were 15 of 51 from the field and 2 of 8 on three-pointers. For the third straight game Washington started slowly offensively in the first half.
Unlike Sunday’s 80-69 defeat to Washington State, the Huskies were able to maintain their defensive intensity in the second half. Washington forced 18 turnovers, including five on Smith and three each from Reeves Nelson, Tyler Honeycutt and Jerime Anderson.
Wilcox also played a role defensively when he raced down Malcolm Lee and blocked his layup on what looked like a UCLA fast break in the first half.
“I thought we played 40 minutes of defense,” Romar said.
It felt as if Washington won more than a basketball game tonight. The victory improved its record to 20-9 and 11-6 in Pac-10. It also likely earned them a NCAA tournament at-large berth no matter what happens Saturday against USC or next week in the conference tourney.
Despite the win, Washington was eliminated from the Pac-10 regular-season title. Arizona beat Oregon State and claimed at least a share of the conference crown. UCLA could forge a tie if it wins at Washington State and the Wildcats lose to Oregon.
A Bruins defeat and a UW victory in the regular-season finale gives the Huskies the coveted No. 2 seed in the Pac-10 tourney.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:


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— If Venoy Overton (right) didn’t inject a little life and fire into the game, the Huskies wouldn’t have won. It was as if, the crowd and everyone got wrapped up in his personal duel with Anderson in the first half. The fans jumped on the refs for every call on Overton and every perceived non-call on Anderson. Suddenly the attention turned to what was happening on the perimeter, which was good for the Huskies because they hard a difficult time stopping Reeves Nelson and Smith inside. Overton’s raised UW’s defensive intensity while not going too far with the antics. He also sped up the tempo offensively without being totally out of control. Overton finished with 10 points on 3-for-3 shooting. He missed 3 of 7 free throws, which seemed a little odd. He also had two turnovers.
“Tonight Venoy was the VO we all know,” Romar said.
Scott Suggs returned from a three-game layoff due to a strained left MCL. He didn’t score many points (four), but he was outstanding defensively. Suggs’ defense is the reason he played 18 minutes. He also tallied three assists and two steals.
— Strange night for Matthew Bryan-Amaning who had as many offensive rebounds (seven) as he did points. The senior forward missed 8 of 11 shots. Many were point-blank shots around the basket. He also mishandled a terrific pass from Wilcox, which would have been a highlight play. Still Bryan-Amaning collected a game-high 13 rebounds.
Aziz N’Diaye also had difficulty catching passes and finishing around the rim. N’Diaye missed 5 of 7 shots and finished with six points. He also had eight rebounds and five were on the offensive glass.
Isaiah Thomas scored his first basket on a putback off his missed jumper with 3:35 left. He had never gone scoreless during his three-year career, but it looked as he would be skunked tonight. Romar said he’s not worried about Thomas, who scored a season-low tying nine points. Thomas missed 9 of 12 shots, including all three three-pointers. He offset the poor shooting and three turnovers with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Justin Holiday has adopted a post-game routine where he goes to one of side gyms inside Hec Ed with his father and puts up 250 or so jumpers. They work on mid-range and three-point shots. Holiday said he needed the extra work after missing 7 of 8 shots tonight. He finished with five points, six rebounds and a game-high five assists. Still Holiday did his best work on the defensive end. He wasn’t as flamboyant at Overton, but Holiday probably had his best defensive game. He held Honeycutt to 0-for-6 shooting and just six points.
— Solid game from Darnell Gant, who also played well defensively. Especially in the second half on Nelson, who was scoreless after the break. Gant had five points. His best play might have been a chase-down block in the first half.
Terrence Ross played four scoreless minutes in the first half. In many ways, his performance was just like Wilcox. The only difference, Wilcox got a chance to turn things around in the second half. Once Wilcox got going, there was no way he was coming out of the game. The four minutes matches a season-low for Ross. It’s his second straight scoreless outing.
— Romar couldn’t explain why UCLA coach Ben Howland used all five his his timeouts in the first seven minutes of the second half. The Bruins couldn’t stop the game when UW went on a knockout 14-0 run late in the second half. “I know they were out of timeouts and we certainly wasn’t going to call any,” Romar said.
— UCLA also didn’t have the services of Lee for long stretches because he was suffering from cramps, Howland said.
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— And finally, Smith said he enjoyed playing in front of 18 family and friends despite the defeat. The former Kentwood High star finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds. He took exception to a few taunts from fans directed as family members. Otherwise Smith said: “It was a fun game to play in. The only thing that would have made it better is if we had won.” After the game, Romar sought out Smith and found him on the floor. They huddled briefly and Romar walked away after saying “Good job.” And that screeching sound you heard during the game whenever the Huskies were at the free throw line, Smith sheepishly admitted that was his mom. “She was into it,” Smith said his mom, who went to school at Washington.

Comments | Topics: C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs, top 25

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