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Husky Men's Basketball

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

March 1, 2012 at 10:54 PM

Co-champs!!!

One more.
That’s the message following Washington’s 80-58 win.
The Huskies were stone-faced after they won at least a share of the Pac-12 title. They didn’t partake any sort of celebrations. Before the game, USC asked the Huskies if they wanted to do anything special after the game and Washington declined.
“This is not the time to celebrate,” senior co-captain Darnell Gant said.
Listening to Gant told you all you needed to know about Washington’s focus. This team is intent on winning the outright title, it’s first since 2009 and second since 1953.
Gant and Abdul Gaddy preached to the team to approach this week’s games like a business trip and the Huskies were focused from the start.
They led 13-4 after four minutes, 21-11 after 7 1/2 minutes and had a 17-point lead (36-19) with 5:33 left. Washington was ahead 40-26 at halftime and slipped momentarily when USC pulled to within nine (49-40).
The Huskies answered with a 7-0 run and cruised to its fifth straight win.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said he knew Washington would play well tonight after Monday’s practice.
“Our group came out with great focus and it didn’t surprise me at all,” he said. “But we did have some defensive lapses in the second half letting them close the lead to nine.”
Washington dominated the rebounding battle 49-23. UW also had 20 offensive boards.
“Our guys attacked on both ends of the glass, which is something we’ve been talking about,” Romar said. “That’s one of the things that we try to do in the absence of being able to knock shots down on a consistent basis.”
Standing between Washington and an outright title is UCLA (17-13, 10-7), which crushed Washington State 78-46.
The Huskies deflected praise tonight, but it must be noted they’ve won some sort of conference title in each of the past four years. In 2009, it was an outright regular-season championship. In 2010 and ’11, it was the Pac-10 Tournament title.
Washington has also won 14 conference games, which is tied for second best in school history in the modern era. The Huskies did it in 2009 and ’05. Their best mark is 15-3 set in 1984.
I believe Washington needs one more victory to gain an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament. If the Huskies get it Saturday, there’s no way the Selection Committee will keep them out of the 68-team field regardless of what happens next week at the Pac-12 Tournament.
Video credit: Patrick Blair
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:


— Ross bounced back in a big way from a disappointing performance last Saturday in Pullman in which he fouled out and scored just two points in 21 minutes. Tonight the sophomore guard avoid the silly, ticky-tack fouls. He only had one foul in 27 minutes. He pumped in 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting, including two three-pointers. Ross also had seven rebounds.
— Gant is really grinding now. You can just see it. He’s getting close to finishing his UW career how he imagined. It’s already a pretty good story. But if the Huskies are able to win Saturday in his hometown to capture an outright title, he said it would be a “storybook ending.” Gant did his part tonight to keep his dream alive. He collected a team-high nine rebounds, which is one shy of his personal best. Gant also scored 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting in 21 minutes.
Abdul Gaddy shot with confidence and the ball was going in for him tonight. He converted 4 of 6 from the field, including a three-pointer for 12 points. He was also 3 of 4 at the line. Gaddy had five assists, which offset two turnovers.
Tony Wroten Jr. did his best work on the defensive end where he helped contain USC’s leading scorer Maurice Jones, who had six points on 2-for-9 shooting. Wroten struggled with his shot (2 for 13) and got a little careless with the ball (four turnovers), but he was active and productive. He finished with eight rebounds, seven points, six assists, two steals and a block in a game-high 32 minutes.
— Solid game from Aziz N’Diaye who finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes.
— The same can be said for Desmond Simmons who rebounded from a scoreless six-minute outing at Washington State. He had his best performance in five games and finished with seven rebounds – three on the offensive glass – five points and two steals. Simmons wisely declined to take long jumpers and scored on putbacks.
— The Huskies didn’t need a big night from C.J. Wilcox who played just 24 minutes and was able to rest his hip. Not sure if the injury had anything to do with him failing to convert on at least two opportunities at the rim, including what would have been a highlight alley-oop dunk. Wilcox shot 3 of 10 and was 0 for 4 on three-pointers for eight points.
Martin Breunig and Hikeem Stewart can thank luck and Wroten for getting them in the scoring ledger. Breunig was the beneficiary of a desperate heave while falling down that beat the shot clock. Stewart got a layup in transition after a nifty feed from Wroten and Breunig capped the scoring with an alley-oop jam from Wroten. Breunig had five points on 2-for-2 shooting while Stewart was 1 for 3, including an airball, for two points.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Shawn Kemp Jr. got minutes in the first half, but made minimal contributions. They also got a lot of garbage time and combined for four rebounds and a point.
— Senior walk-on Brendan Sherrer played two scoreless minutes at the end. Freshman walk-on Alex Wegner was the only UW player who didn’t enter the game.

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, UCLA

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