Considering the score – Washington 86, Oregon State 62 – and the margin of victory (24 points) and the location (Gill Coliseum), you could make the case that Saturdays’ game was easily the best performance this season by the Huskies.
And you probably wouldn’t get much of an argument from coach Lorenzo Romar.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Colorado at home maybe. We played good against Oregon State and Oregon at home, but we were down 12 to Oregon State and Oregon was a little different. … But from start to finish, I don’t know if we played this good in awhile.”
The Huskies have never been this good. Their best game had been a 76-65 win at Arizona State on Jan. 2 in the Pac-12 season opener, which also happens to be the last time they won a road game. Sandwiched in the middle are seven straight losses on the road, which is largely responsible for Washington’s 15-13, 7-8 record.
This was easily Washington’s best game because it trailed by six points midway in first half before figuring out what it needed to do to dismantle a formidable foe that had a big front line.
The smaller Huskies dominated the rebounding battle 43-23, which is the most lopsided margin this season. They shot 57.4 percent from the field, which is the second best this season. They had more points in the paint (52-36), more points off turnovers (15-10), more second-chance points (10-5), more assists (20-12), more field goal attempts (68-52) and just 11 turnovers.
“There was a stretch in the first half where we got down 25-19 and we were just having all sorts of problems defending them, we settled down and we began to get stops,” Romar said. “But then I thought we knocked shots down. A lot of these open shots that we’ve missed in some of these losses, were going down tonight. Nothing heroic. Nothing sensational or of the highlight nature. Just the simple ones. We were making them tonight and I think that makes a difference.”
In the big picture, it remains to be seen what Saturday’s win means for the Huskies because they’ve dugged themselves a deep hole. They’re seventh in the Pac-12 standings with three games – all at home where they’re 12-3 – remaining.
“It’s always good to get a win especially going home with three more games at our place,” C.J. Wilcox said. “We’;re just trying to get ourselves in a good position for the tournament seeding wise and try to make a run there.”
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— Tough call trying to pick a MVP, but Nigel Williams-Goss gets the nod because he carried the Huskies in the first half with 12 points and five assists. UW led 44-33 at the break. In his last outing against OSU, Williams-Goss had 32 points, which was the most by a UW freshman. Today he had 10 assists, which was the most by a UW freshman since Michael McLain had 10 at Arizona on March 3, 1994.
Williams-Goss on which is more fun, scoring 32 points or getting 10 assists: “I get pleasure out of winning. So I felt good after both games. Whatever we got to do to win. Whether it’s zero points and 10 assists or 10 points and zero assists. If we win, then I’m going to be good.
— Wilcox broke out of a four-game slump with 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting, including 3 of 7 on three-pointers. Due to the blowout, he played a season-low 28 minutes. Once Wilcox got it going, he was unstoppable. After making a long jumper, he drained a three-pointer and scored on a layup. It was his best outing since scoring 24 points on Feb. 1 at Washington State. Wilcox also took over second place on UW’s all-time scoring list and moved past Jon Brockman.
(Wilcox on today’s game) “I just knew I had to come into the game being more aggressive. I was struggling figuring out how to go at teams when they’re really focusing on you. As opposed to looking for my teammates more, I had to get myself going early then my teammates would feed off of that.”
— Remember Andrew Andrews three-game slump? In the past three games, he’s been sensational while averaging 17 points and 7.6 rebounds. You expect the 6-2 guard to put up points, but the rebounding has been a big surprise. His matched his career high with eight boards today. He also had 15 points and five assists in 30 minutes.
— Desmond Simmons is at his best when he’s collecting 11 rebounds, which was a season high for the 6-7 junior forward. He had four on the offensive end, partly explains why UW had 16 more shots. Simmons did a few things on the offensive end that drew attention, including draining a mid-range, fadeaway jumper. If he can consistently knock down that shot, then perhaps he can make that Quincy Pondexter jump next season. Simmons finished with 10 points on 5-for-12 shooting.
— In his second game off the bench, Perris Blackwell provided a spark once again. Earlier this week at Oregon he had 17 points and five rebounds as a reserve. Today he had 12 points and eight rebounds despite being limited to 25 minutes due to foul trouble.
— Shawn Kemp Jr. played just seven minutes Wednesday due to foul trouble. Today he was on the floor for 12 minutes due to foul trouble. Kemp has to do a better job of anticipating plays and getting into good defensive position. Often times he’s a second late and a bit too aggressive defensively. The 6-9 junior forward also has to do a better job rebounding. He didn’t have a board today. Offensively, Kemp was stellar while converting 4 of 5 attempts for 10 points.
— Washington scored 86 points, but Mike Anderson was scoreless in 19 minutes. He was 0 for 1 from the field. Anderson had two rebounds.
— Darin Johnson was also scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting in 11 minutes. He’s become a one-dimensional player. When he gets the ball, he’s likely to shoot. Johnson has just 13 assists and 27 turnovers this season. His last assist was Jan. 18.
— Reserves Gilles Dierickx, Jahmel Taylor, Quinn Sterling and Connor Smith played the final minutes in mop-up duty. Dierickx had two rebounds while Smith drew cheers from UW starters on the sideline when he sank a layup with 47 seconds left. It was his first basket this season.