Had a chance to chat briefly with C.J. Wilcox (right) after Washington’s 75-62 win over Cal Poly last night.
The 6-5 junior guard leads the Huskies with a 19.4 scoring average that ranks third in the Pac-12. He’s considered one of the best shooters in the conference, but this season he’s made great strides on the defensive end.
Wilcox leads Washington with 15 blocks – he had two last night – and he’s third on the team with a 4.3 rebounding average. At times this season, he’s had the responsibility of defending the other team’s top perimeter player and he leads UW in minutes played (35.9). He also has eight steals, two shy for most on the team.
“I’m just being more active and trying to affect the game in other ways than just scoring,” Wilcox said. “I’ve always had the ability to chase guys down and use my length to block shots. The main thing is timing. So that’s something that just comes naturally.”
Against Cal Poly, Wilcox finished with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting and three three-pointers. He also had six rebounds – three on the offensive glass – five assists, two blocks and two steals to offset three turnovers in 37 minutes.
“He was all over the place,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Five rebounds in the first half is what he did. C.J. was pretty patient. There weren’t a whole lot of possessions, I think they were on pace for 30 possessions in the first half but yet he comes out with 10 points in the first half after all of that. He did a good job of not allowing the system to get him out of the game. He was very focused and into the game. He was able to do other things.”
With Wilcox leading the way on both ends of the court, the Huskies crushed the Mustangs midway in the second half when they held them scoreless over six minutes and extended their nine-point lead (38-29) to 20 (49-29) with 10:16 left.
Romar called it the most complete defensive effort this season. Washington dominated the glass 30-17 and forced 12 turnovers against a team that was averaging nine. Cal Poly also shot 38.1 percent (8 of 21) on three-pointers attempted just 14 free throws. The Huskies were 24 of 32 at the line.
Backup guard Andrew Andrews returned to action after missing the past three games due to a right ankle injury and it was the first time this season Washington had its entire roster available. You could also get a sense of how the Huskies hope to play now that Andrews is back and Shawn Kemp Jr. – who missed the first seven games due to a knee injury – has been re-inserted into the rotation.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— Wilcox was the obvious star last night. Here’s an unusual statistic. He’s scored 21 points in four of the past five games.
— In the past few games, the Huskies have made a major effort in the first half to get Aziz N’Diaye going on the offensive end. They did it again last night. On the first three possessions, he received the ball on the low block. Twice he was stripped by guards and the other time he drew a foul. N’Diaye adjusted. He realized Cal Poly was trapping once he dribbled. He often threw the ball back out and re-established better position in the post where he scored on 4 of 6 shots for 11 points. He also missed three of six free throws. N’Diaye also made an impact on the glass. He pulled down nine rebounds and four on the offensive end.
“The baskets that really drained us came from their offensive boards,” Cal Poly coach Joe Callero said. “N’Diaye, the 7-foot kid, just went over the top of us and snatched four offensive boards, they were critical ones because they were long and we had got a stop and they had missed and they were about 6-8 feet from the hoop and he reaches up to about 8 feet high, he’s a seven footer, about 8 and half, 9 feet with his arms so it was up there. Brian Bennett did a pretty good job there but we gave up 11 offensive boards, and we only got 3 and we were out-rebounded 30-17, and that’s the game in a nutshell”
— The statistics say it was a quiet night for Desmond Simmons, but the stats don’t tell the whole story. After a lackluster performance last Saturday against Jackson State, the 6-7 forward was energized again. He threw his body all over the place. He got his hands on loose ball, made deflections and kept the ball alive for others to get rebounds. His best play came midway in the second half when he dove to retrieve a missed free throw. He outfought two Mustangs and passed to Andrews who sank a mid-range jumper. Simmons finished with seven rebounds, three points and two assists in 30 minutes.
— Scott Suggs entered the game shooting 55.2 percent on three-pointers. After going 1 of 6 on treys, he’s now 48.6 percent behind the arc. Still the senior guard got plenty of good looks and the shots just didn’t go down. Still he had a season-high four assists to go with 12 points.
— Abdul Gaddy has to do a better job of taking care of the ball. He’s had at least three turnovers in eight games this season. Last night he had five in 29 minutes. Gaddy had been sure-handed in previous seasons and had a high assists-to-turnover-ratio. However, this year he has 39 assists and 40 turnovers. Against Cal Poly, he did a good job at the line knocking down 5 of 6 free throws en route to 10 points. He’s scored in double figures in nine games.
— Andrews is not totally healthy, but he was good enough to thrill the fans on a dribble drive layup that included a nifty spin around a defender. He was also healthy enough to play 14 minutes and score eight points on 3-for-4 shooting.
Said Romar: “He’s limping a little bit and not 100%. He came in and gave us a lift. He did some good things for us. We were able to rotate guys a little more. I thought our guys were able to stay relatively fresh.”
— Shawn Kemp Jr. and Jernard Jarreau each played 11 minutes and finished with four points. Jarreau scored all of his points at the charity stripe and did not attempt a field goal. Kemp tried to work some low post moves. He was 1 of 3 from the floor. Jarreau also had three rebounds, Kemp none.
— Hikeem Stewart’s minutes will decrease with Andrews in the rotation. He played seven minutes and missed one shot.
— Martin Breuing played the final three minutes. I’m guessing he was on the floor because it was mop-up time and he’s a better free throw shooter than N’Diaye.
— Junior walk-on Dion Overstreet made an appearance in the final minute and sank two free throws.