Big win for Washington.
After their 65-57 win over USC, the Huskies moved two spots into a sixth-place tie with Arizona State and USC in the Pac-12 standings. Washington currently wins the tie-breaker and if nothing changes, it would be the No. 6 seed against No. 11 Utah in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament next Wednesday. The winner plays No. 3 California in the quarterfinals and possible No. 2 UCLA in the semifinals.
By all accounts, that’s a favorable draw.
However, it’s still possible for the Huskies to get the No. 5 seed, which at the moment would mean a first-round date against No. 12 Washington State and a possible second-round meeting with No. 4 Arizona. No. 1 seed Oregon is also on this side of the bracket.
It’s never a good idea to play your rival in the tourney, while Arizona and Oregon have both swept the Huskies this season.
If if you injected coach Lorenzo Romar with truth serum, he’d probably say he hopes nothing changes in the standings over the final two days of conference play. No. 6 Colorado won four games in four days to claim the inaugural Pac-12 title last year so maybe the sixth seed is lucky.
Trouble is, the standings are likely to change. WSU could move up to 10. UW could fall back to eight. And you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out all of the possible seeding scenarios.
One thing is certain, Washington has the longest current winning streak in the Pac-12. Strange but true. The Huskies have won three in a row and four of the past five games.
A win Saturday would cap a regular season when Washington began Pac-12 play with four straight wins and finished with four straight wins. That’s nuts.
Tonight’s game was a little zany if only for the unlikely heroes and strange set of circumstances that led to the win.
Jernard Jarreau (above far right), who didn’t play the last time these teams met, came off the bench and scored a career-high 12 points.
Andrew Andrews collected a career-high eight rebounds, including five on the offensive glass.
And Scott Suggs stayed in the zone and tallied 18 points, which gives him 57 in the past three games.
The Huskies made just 1 of their first six free throws before converting the last 16 in a row.
And they dominated the glass, outrebounding USC 48-29.
“I just think we played with energy,” Romar said. “A lot of good things happen as a byproduct of the foundation of playing with energy. You go out and play with energy and all of a sudden you get the loose balls, you get the rebounds. You’re just more dialed in and that may have been the case for us.”
It looks as if Washington has regained its winning ways after an eight game stretch where it was 1-7.
“We’re just trying to play consistent,” Andrews said. “We don’t look at streaks, we just take the games as they come and try our best to go out there and play hard. We don’t pay too much attention to how many games me lose in a row or how many games me win in a row; we treat each game as an individual game. We’re just trying to play as hard as we can.”
— Suggs started with two bizarre turnovers, including stepping out of bounds and throwing what looked like a pass that sailed across court before being intercepted. He didn’t score his first basket until 5:46 remaining in the first half. He made three field goals before the break and five in the second half to finish with a personal best eight. He also had three rebounds and three assists to offset three turnovers in a game-high 37 minutes.
— Jarreau was the X-factor tonight. USC didn’t see him in the last game and probably didn’t expect him to be so aggressive inside. You anticipate the redshirt freshman will take and make a few mid-range jumpers. But he was active around the rim and forced several fouls. And when he went to the line, Jarreau was perfect on eight free-throw attempts. He played 22 minutes, which is the most since Nov. 28. He also got a standing ovation from the Alaska Airlines Arena crowd in the second half when he sat down for a few minutes. But it wasn’t a flawless performance. He had a head-scratching turnover in the first half when failed to connect with Gaddy on an inbound pass. Jarreau also brought the crowd to its feet when he spiked Eric Wise layup attempt out of bounds in the second half.
— Andrews didn’t have an assist for the second straight game, but it didn’t matter. The backup guard came off the bench and played with hustle and toughness. His five offensive rebounds were more than all but one USC player. It’s not surprising Andrews and Jarreau had a +12 plus/minus ratio.
— Productive, but not an overly sensational night statistically for Abdul Gaddy who finished with six points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and just one turnover in 27 minutes. Gaddy and Andrews combined to negate Jio Fontan, who had five points on 2-for-10 shooting. Still, the USC guard had seven assists.
— C.J. Wilcox attempted a season low two three-pointers. The Trojans were able to take him out of the offense, but they couldn’t keep him off the glass where he had eight rebounds. They also couldn’t get the ball out of his hands in the final minutes. He was 6 of 6 at the free throw line where he scored most of his 11 points.
— Offensively it’s been a struggle lately for Aziz N’Diaye who is averaging four points in the past six games. He was 1 for 9 tonight for two points. Still N’Diaye had 11 rebounds, which was the most he’s had in the past seven games. He struggled to slow down Dewayne Dedmon, who tallied 18 points on 9-for-11 shooting.
— Desmond Simmons helped hold USC’s leading scorer Eric Wise to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting. Simmons had four points and five rebounds in 15 minutes.
— Early on the Huskies tend to look for Shawn Kemp Jr. who scored the game’s first basket and had a score three minutes into the second half. But it doesn’t last. Either by design or some other factor, Kemp cedes the low post to N’Diaye and lately he hasn’t been effective near the top of the key in the high-post offense. He had one rebound tonight and five points in 15 minutes.