C.J. Wilcox got it right when he summed up Washington’s 61-54 defeat to No. 23 UCLA in Saturday’s regular-season finale.
“Regardless of what happened it wasn’t going to change what we have to do in Las Vegas,” he said.
Aziz N’Diaye (right) also put things in perspective when he said: “It’s a new season now.”
Washington must win next week’s Pac-12 Tournament to advance to the NCAAs or else it will likely return to the National Invitational Tournament where it advanced to the semifinals last year in New York.
The Huskies are a lock to make the NIT and the school has to submit dates to reserve Alaska Airlines Arena for a possible home game in two weeks. The UW women’s team is also vying to host a NIT game, which could make scheduling somewhat tricky.
Of course Washington still has its sights set on the NCAA tournament, but the road to the Big Dance won’t be easy.
The Huskies are the No. 6 seed paired against No. 11 Washington State in a first-round game 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the MGM Grand Arena. The winner plays No. 3 Oregon at 8:30 Thursday in the quarterfinals.
Washington is in the lower half of the bracket. The other first-round game pits No. 7 USC against No. 10 Utah. The winner plays No. 2 California.
If the Huskies advance to semifinal, it odds are they’ll face the Golden Bears.
In the top half of the bracket, No. 1 seed plays the winner from a first-round game against No. 8 Stanford and No. 9 Arizona State.
And No. 4 Arizona has the bye and faces either No. 5 Colorado or No. 12 Oregon State.
It’s impossible to pick a favorite in a year when upsets are the norm.
It’s also difficult to know if Saturday’s setback lessens Washington’s chances from winning its third Pac-12 title in the past four years.
The Huskies need to win four straight games, which is something they haven’t done since the start of the conference schedule. They had a chance to win four in a row today, but came up short because of they committed too many turnovers, performed poorly at the free throw line and fell flat in the final minutes.
Washington had 19 turnovers, which is the second highest this season. The miscues led to 29 points for UCLA.
The Huskies also converted just 3 of 9 free throws while the Bruins were 14 of 18 at the line.
And Washington led 52-48 when Wilcox had a three-pointer rattled out of the rim with 5:15 left. His miss was a harbinger of things to come.
The Huskies were outscored 13-2 the rest of the way.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— Scott Suggs finished with a team high 14 points and somebody needs to tell him he should take more shots. Why not? In the first half, he was 3 of 4 from the field for seven points. In the second half, he was 3 for 6. When you’re shooting like that, you have to take more shots. Someone also needs to tell Suggs he has to diversify his offensive game in a way that will draw fouls. He failed to get to the line today, which is the 10th time that’s happened this season. You can’t be a scorer and not get to the line. Suggs also continues to show a newfound fiery attitude on the court. He got into it with Shabazz Muhammad. Unfortunately the encounter lit a spark in the UCLA guard.
— Desmond Simmons’ was the only UW player who had a positive plus/minus stat, which begins to explain the impact he had on the game. He was a one-man wrecking crew on the offensive end. He collected four of his 11 rebounds on the offensive end. He also the Huskies extra possessions because he deflected the ball or forced turnovers. He played 17 minutes and you could argue he should have gotten more time. But Simmons is offensively challenged. He’ll get more minutes when he can knock down an open jump shot. Today he was 0 for 2.
— Simmons alter ego is Shawn Kemp Jr. He does a marvelous job scoring inside. He finishes plays with power and dunks. And he blocks shots. However, Kemp isn’t a rebounder monster like Simmons. Today he had two in 24 minutes.
— N’Diaye can be maddening. He knows he’s limited offensively and tends to overcompensate on the defensive end, which is a good thing. Today he was soaring and spiking UCLA’s shots into the seats. At one point in the second half, N’Diaye did a few pushups after tumbling on the court. The impromptu calisthenics drew a roar from the crowd. He had two rejections and 10 blocks. On the other end, the Bruins got into his head early when they double teamed him on the block and forced a turnover. He also picked up a turnover early in the second half on a traveling call. Even when he got good looks at the rim, N’Diaye rushed the shot and missed at least three point-blank layups. The worst came at the end when he failed to catch a pass in the post and was benched.
— It was Abdul Gaddy threw the pass to N’Diaye. After the turnover, Gaddy tore into the big guy verbally. You could argue a playmaker like Gaddy might have had a bigger impact and better statistics this season if he had guys who could finish at the rim. Or maybe he should have been more assertive. Gaddy (eight points, four assists, four rebounds and four turnovers) had near identical numbers with Larry Drew II (seven points, six assists, two rebounds and three turnovers).
— Wilcox missed 10 of 13 shots. He was 2 of 8 on three-pointers and made only one field goal inside the arc. Wilcox also failed to attempt a free throw. His biggest contribution was four assists. Otherwise, he struggled on both ends of the court. Defensively, he couldn’t stop Jordan Adams who had 17 points.
— Andrew Andrews had more attempts (nine) than points (seven), which is never a great stat. He also had more three-point attempts (two) than free throw attemps (none), which isn’t so great either. And a 1-for-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is just OK.
— Jernard Jarreau played 11 of his 14 minutes in the first half. It was interesting seeing the 6-10 reshirt freshman forward paired against 6-9 Kyle Anderson. If Jarreau was given more freedom and minutes, you wonder if he’d be able to produce like Anderson who had eight rebounds, four points, three steals and two assists. Jarreau finished with three rebounds and two points.