Washington has seen enough of Deonte Burton.
The Nevada point guard torched the Huskies again. He’s scored 60 points in the past two games against UW not including 14 he had as a freshman in 2010. Thank goodness for the folks on Montlake the three-game series with the Wolf Pack ended Saturday.
Nevada lost the first game 90-60, but won the next two by identical scores 76-73. However, this time Nevada and Burton didn’t need overtime to beat the Huskies.
Washington threw its best players at him and the 6-1 junior sank 10 of 17 shots from the field, 3 of 5 three-pointers and 6 of 7 at the line for a game-high 29 points. He also had three rebounds, two assists and SIX steals to offset three turnovers in 35 minutes.
Gaddy drew the defensive assignment early to stop Burton, who blew past him on two dribble drive layups before drawing a foul that prevented another short basket. Gaddy picked up a silly offensive foul two minutes into the game trying to protect his dribble. He collected two more fouls against Burton that forced the UW senior point guard to sit the final 10 minutes before the break on the bench.
Without Andrew Andrews (sprained right ankle) and Gaddy, the Huskies were forced to rely on Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox to direct the offense.
“We had to rely on our two scorers and that’s not their strengths,” Gaddy said. “We had to make them be out of their comfort zone and not be scorers, but run the team.”
Gaddy’s first-half absence partly explains why the Huskies committed nine turnovers and trailed 34-26 at the break after shooting 32.3 percent (10 of 31) from the field.
Wilcox needed to take over offensively and he also took over for Gaddy in regards to defending Burton. Wilcox did a nice job keeping Burton out of the lane, but despite good defense Burton drained two high-arcing three-pointers in the final three minutes. He scored 10 of Nevada’s final 16 points.
The Huskies fall to 4-4 and lost their third game at home. No Lorenzo Romar team has ever lost three non-conference home games in a season. The last time it happened was during the 2000-01 season and the Huskies finished 10-20 under Bob Bender.
Romar defends his decisions to implement the high-post zone even though Washington has struggled with scoring in the first half in the past five games. The Huskies allowed 14 points when it played zone in the first half, but he said they had to use zone at times to keep Burton out of the lane.
However, Romar’s biggest concern before Thursday’s game against Seattle University isn’t fixing a broken offense or mending an ailing defense. He said his top priority is keeping the players’ spirits high.
“The main thing we have to do is keep our guys believing and keep everyone’s head up and not believing the talk, the peripheral talk on the side,” Romar said. “We can’t believe that because we’ve been in this position too many times where I always joke they have been ready to shut down the program – and we’ve gone on to win the league, we’ve gone on to the Sweet 16, we’ve gone on to the NCAA tournament.
“So our focus on coaches is to make sure our team doesn’t listen to the negativity that is going on around them — amongst our group that we believe in ourselves. And as we do that, guys come back and we are healthy, in our roles, everybody is contributing, we’ll be fine.”
Romar has always touted the UW’s improved chemistry this season and he doesn’t expect it to waver.
“The negativity – I think we have good character guys – I don’t think it will come from within,” Romar said. “It’s what they read and what they hear. You keep hearing that stuff long enough, if you are not strong minded, you can start believing.
“We have to guard against that, because guys are going to start hearing it. We’ve heard it before, when we’ve been in a situation when things aren’t going well. No, we’re not going to shut the program down tonight.”
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— It’s asking a lot of Wilcox to carry the offense, defend the best player on the floor and play 39 minutes. That’s a full plate. He scored a team-high 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting, including 5 of 9 on three-pointers. Wilcox also added seven rebounds and three assists to offset three turnovers.
— Romar didn’t plan on Suggs playing 35 minutes, but when Gaddy went out he didn’t have a choice. Suggs was the next best ball handler and he was shaky at times trying to break Nevada’s token press. Suggs didn’t hesitate offensively. He was 3 of 10 shooting in the first half, but discovered his accuracy in the second half. Suggs finished with a career-high 19 points in his first game back from a three-game layoff. Romar said Suggs tweaked his foot late in the game, but Suggs told reporters he felt fine.
— Tale of two halves for Gaddy. He was ineffective in the first half due to foul trouble. In the second half, Gaddy had 12 of his 16 points and all five of his assists. He didn’t leave the court in the second half and played all 20 minutes. Gaddy might have been the hero if the outcome was different. He got the crowd roaring after intercepting a pass and flushing a fastbreak dunk on Burton. It was the second time Gaddy capped a slam on Burton.
— Desmond Simmons got his second start and responded with his third game of double-digit rebounds. He had 13 after collecting a career-high 18 in the previous game. Simmons also had five on the offensive glass. Offensively, Simmons had his worst performance of the season. He missed all seven field goal attempts and finished with one point. However, defensively Simmons was outstanding. He also had two blocks in 23 minutes.
— Uneven performance from Aziz N’Diaye who had 11 points and eight rebounds. He blocked two shots, but Romar said N’Diaye has to be selective about the shots he tries to block because it leaves UW vulnerable for putbacks if he misses. N’Diaye had a monsterous two-hand jam, but he also missed a putback with 14 seconds when UW trailed 74-70.
— Shawn Kemp Jr. had five points and four rebounds in his season debut. Romar said he’d like to get him more than two FG attempts. Kemp made both shots and he could see more playing time in the future. He also had two blocks.
— Hikeem Stewart will remain in the rotation as long as Andrews is out. Washington has to live with his two turnovers because he was the only one with an assist in the first half. He finished with three helpers. Stewart still has not made a field goal and is 0 for 4 this season.
— Jernard Jarreau played a season-low six minutes largely because Kemp returned. He also came off the bench for the first time and finished with just one rebound.
— Quinn Sterling played three first-half minutes. He had one turnover and missed a shot.
— Andrews is listed as day to day. He’s wearing a walking boot and walking on crutches. His ankle is still swollen, Romar said.