Photo credit: McClatchy Newspapers – Ethan Hyman
Washington and Georgia tipped off at 10:08 p.m. and the game concluded shortly after midnight when Travis Leslie’s desperate three-pointer clanged off the rim.
As Isaiah Thomas, Justin Holiday and Matthew Bryan-Amaning left the podium following their post-game press conference, the moderator said: “See you in a few hours.”
It’s a relatively quick turnaround for Washington following its 68-65 win over Georgia.
The seventh-seed Huskies return to Time Warner Cable Arena tomorrow afternoon for practice and more interviews. They face No. 2 North Carolina 12:15 p.m. EST Sunday in the first game in Charlotte.
We’ll address North Carolina on Saturday and the sweet rewards if the Huskies can pull off an upset against the seventh-ranked Tar Heels.
For now let’s quickly dissect UW’s narrow win that was closer than it should have been.
— Great move by coach Lorenzo Romar to press Georgia after made baskets in the second half. The Bulldogs had to work a little harder and they wore down. Also a good decision by Romar to have the Huskies play zone at times in the final minutes. It’s difficult to make jumpers when you have tired legs.
— The Huskies forced 15 turnovers and only committed five. They scored 17 points from Georgia’s turnovers and had 15 fast break points.
— Once again Thomas finished the game flat on his back after a close Washington victory. This time, the Washington guard fell hard after nearly snagging a last-second steal. He had a sensational second half scoring 15 of his team-high 19 points after intermission. Thomas repeatedly burned Georgia with mid-range jumpers just above the free throw line. He also connected on 7 of 7 foul shots while distributing seven assists in 34 minutes.
— Holiday only scored six points, but his defense made life miserable for Leslie who finished with 12 points on 4-for-13 shooting. Holiday got his hands on a lot of loose balls and passes. He finished with two steals and three rebounds.
— Romar started Darnell Gant (above) in place of C.J. Wilcox.
“They were bigger,” Romar said. “We had to go with a bigger lineup in there. Darnell is one of our best, if not our best, post defender. We wanted to make sure we started the game off being able to attempt to guard those guys. They’re a load down low.”
Starting Gant may have also been a reward for his recent stellar performances. The junior forward responded with seven points, three rebounds and gritty defense against Trey Thompkins, who finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Thompkins had a monster game, but it could have been worse for Washington.
— The Huskies received a boost offensively from reserve guard Scott Suggs who had 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting. Ten points in this type of low-scoring postseason game felt like 20.
— Bryan-Amaning led UW with six rebounds. He also had eight points, a block and a steal. Bryan-Amaning had his hands full with Thompkins and he was in foul trouble in the second half.
— Venoy Overton returned from a three-game suspension and played 21 minutes. He had six points and four rebounds. When Georgia pressed late in the game, Overton was on the floor with Thoma, which gave UW two quality ball handlers.
— Big game from Aziz N’Diaye. His statistics don’t tell the whole story. He finished with six points and five rebounds in 20 minutes. N’Diaye also provided solid defense in the middle.
— Wilcox looked as if he was playing his first NCAA tournament game. He rushed a couple of shots and never looked comfortable while shooting 2 for 6 from the field and 1 for 4 on three-pointers. Wilcox also missed a free throw with four seconds left that could have sealed the victory.
— Freshman Terrence Ross comes across as unflappable, but admitted he “gets butterflies” at times. He said he never allows the opponent to see him nervous. Maybe it was nerves, but Ross couldn’t sustain the momentum from last week’s scintillating Pac-10 Tournament performance. He was scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting and collected just two rebounds in 10 minutes.