Forty-eight hours after tying a season-low 53 points in a heartbreaking defeat, the Washington Huskies outlasted Arizona State 96-92 in a men’s basketball game that felt like a track meet.
For a night at least, the old UW team returned.
Or to be accurate, the Huskies played like those old teams that UW fans fell in love with years ago. They forced 11 turnovers that led to 21 points. They scored 12 fast break points. They were aggressive offensively attacking the rim and scoring 50 points in the paint.
Who knows if it will last? Maybe it was an anomaly.
It seems unlikely three UW role players (Andrew Andrews (right), Shawn Kemp Jr. and Aziz N’Diaye) will score their career high in the same game. It’s also unlikely Washington allows an opponent to shoot 63.8 percent from the field and 63.2 percent (12 of 19) on three-pointers and win a game.
“I’m ecstatic that we won, but I’m going to go against the grain of how I usually am – glass half-full,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. If we’re not going to defend better, we can’t expect to come out on top. I’ll take it. If we’d have held them to 20% and lost, it would have been worse, so we’ll take it for sure, but we just have to do a better job on the defensive end, like we were doing earlier, like we did against Arizona. We did a better job defensively against Arizona.”
Washington’s defense wasn’t horrible. Give credit to Arizona State’s Jahii Carson and Jonathan Gilling for making shots. Carson finished with 32 and Gilling 22. They were incredible.
But ASU had a two-man attack while the Huskies had six players score at least 10 points for the first time this season. That type of balanced and abundant scoring is impossible to beat.
When asked what they can take away from this game talked about grinding and continuing to improve.
You have to wonder if the Huskies may have found a few things offensively that will work in future games.
The Kemp-N’Diaye pairing is intriguing. They’re big and could give opponents problems. Tonight, they were the difference in the game.
“We got crushed inside,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said. “Obviously we gave up 50 points in the paint in a variety of ways: low post, transition, offensive rebounds, cutters off of back screens to name a few of the ways they tallied 50 points in the paint. Certainly the rebounding was very problematic for us. We really got destroyed on the back boards. And we got beat in 50-50 balls. So despite doing a number of good things on offense, it was negated by those kinds of things on defense.”
Washington got a lot of success using Andrews and Abdul Gaddy in pick-n-roll plays at the top of the key with the bigs setting the screen. A few times it led to misconnections on passes. But other times it gave the guards an avenue to get into the lane.
A few other things we hadn’t seen in awhile.
— Desmond Simmons drained a three-pointer.
— N’Diaye swished all of his free throws.
— And Scott Suggs relentlessly attacked the rim.
“It was just a matter of time,” Wilcox said. “We hadn’t been playing well offensively, but we knew it was coming. We knew what we were capable of tonight.”
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— The up-tempo pace was perfect for Andrews, who raced to the rack and kept the Huskies running. He provided more than a spark while coming off the bench. At times, he carried Washington. Especially offensively. And especially in the first half. Andrews sank 7 of 12 shots for a personal best 20 points, including 15 before the break. He was 6 of 6 on free throws. He also had two assists in 24 minutes to offset three turnovers.
— Kemp came in averaging 4.3 points. Last week, he said he turned the corner after scoring 12 points at Oregon. The next game he started and took a small step back offensively. Tonight, he has never been better. He finished with 18 points – a career high – on 9-for-14 shooting. He also collected six rebounds, three on the offensive glass. Starting the 6-10 forward seemed like a risky proposition because he had to chase Jonathan Gilling (22 points) on the perimeter. You could look at the points and say both players canceled each other out, but that’s where the stats are misleading. Kemp played eight fewer minutes and he had a bigger impact on the game. His presence down low made life easier for N’Diaye.
Said Romar: “I’ve constantly said that Shawn Kemp as a low-post scorer was a really good option for us. He had 12 points against (Oregon) and he comes back with 18 again tonight. Those are the things we envisioned Shawn Kemp doing. Now, he probably has a little more confidence, so hopefully he can come out and play a little closer to that level all the time.”
— And speaking of N’Diaye, the 7-foot center notched his second straight double double and 10th this season. He took an inadvertent knee to the face and was forced to leave the game early on. He received three stitches to repair a gash over left eye. N’Diaye returned with a bandage over his eye and never missed a step while outplaying Jordan Bachynski who had 10 points and five rebounds. N’Diaye had some difficulty catching passes and committed four turnovers. But once he Diaye got the ball, got his balance and put up a shot, most likely it was going in. He made 7 of 8 shots for a career-high 16 points. He also yanked 10 rebounds, four offensive. His final rebound was his most important. Tied 89-89, Suggs missed a three-pointer when N’Diaye collected the rebound and scored on a putback despite being fouled. He nailed the free throw to put UW ahead 92-89 with 35 seconds left. N’Diaye also made a game-saving block in the final seconds, getting a piece of Carson’s floater that would have tied the score with six seconds left.
Said Romar: “The big man in the middle was huge tonight in more ways than one. The last play, the block, the free throws—he was 7 of 8. He just did a tremendous job. I’m so glad we have him.”
— Another tough game offensively for Wilcox. Thursday he was bottled up and never got going. Tonight Wilcox was handcuffed and didn’t take a shot until 4:45 remaining in the first half. It was an airball, which was indicative of his shooting struggles. But the junior guard made othe contributions. He finished with a career-high seven assists. He played tight defense and picked up two questionable calls. He finished with four fouls and was smart not to pick up a fifth because UW needed him in the end. Wilcox salted the game away with two free throws four seconds left. He finished with 10 points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field and 6 for 6 at the line. Wilcox was also instrumental because he was the reason Carrick Felix picked up three fouls in the first half and played just 11 minutes before intermission. Felix never got going and was a non-factor.
— Another active performance from Abdul Gaddy who is starting to fill up the stat sheet. He was in attack-mode early and did a nice job setting up scoring opportunities for teammates. Gaddy finished with eight points on 4-for-7 shooting, a season-high seven assists, five rebounds and a steal in 23 minutes. The only downside was four turnovers. At least were ball-handling issues. And he took an inexcusable five-second penalty late in the game when he was unable to make an inbound pass. The miscue nearly cost the Huskies the game.
— Suggs was marvelously efficient and economical. He took eight shots and made four, including 2 of 5 on three-pointers. He finished with 14 points, the most for him in the past nine games. He also had two steals. The only downside, Suggs didn’t have a rebound for the second time in three games. That’s hard to do when you play 35 minutes and your team gets 36 boards.
— It was Simmons best performance since collecting 12 rebounds against Colorado. He was active and involved on both ends of the court. He rotated defensively and tried to draw fouls. He tipped loose balls for extra possessions. The only thing he didn’t do was dive on the floor, which is a trademark for the 6-7 forward. Still, Simmons made an imprint on the game. He finished with 10 points. He drained a sweet-looking three-pointer in the first half. On a critical possession late in the game he knocked down a mid-range jumper despite being fouled and made the free throw for an old-school three-point play. The basket gave UW an 87-84 lead with 1:33 left. Simmons also had seven rebounds in 23 minutes.
— Hikeem Stewart and Jernard Jarreau combined for five minutes.