When asked last week if benching Andrew Andrews in the second half of the Stanford game was the impetus to his turnaround, coach Lorenzo Romar said: “I don’t know about that. I think more than anything – and not just him – but guys have become more comfortable with their roles.”
That’s probably true. But something clicked for Andrews after five scoreless minutes against Stanford. Before that game he was mired in shooting/scoring slump that included a 1-for-12 outing at Utah followed by a 3-for-13 display at Colorado.
Since then, Andrews has been on a tear.
In the past four games, Andrews is the only player in the Pac-12 averaging 16.8 points and 8.0 rebounds. He scored a career-high 21 points against California. And he collected a personal best nine rebounds versus Washington State.
Andrews needed to make one of the biggest adjustments on the team to make room for star freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss. Andrews often plays shooting guard, which isn’t ideal because he’s a natural play maker. He was a scoring guard in high school and tallied 41 points in the 5A state title for Benson Tech. But he also shoots 27.4 percent on three-pointers during his UW career, which is the lowest in the Pac-12 for players with over 100 attempts.
Early in the season, he focused on being more aggressive offensively and looking for his shot. His field goal attempts increased from 6.6 as a redshirt freshman to 10.4 this season.
“Lately, I’ve been trying to impact the game in other ways,” Andrews said.
THURSDAY MORNING LINKS:
— We’re hosting a live chat with Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott at noon.
— In Year One with Steve Alford, UCLA has the same record (22-9) it had at this point last year under former coach Ben Howland. Alford told the LA Times: “The train is moving in the right direction. UCLA, and other places like it, it’s a big train. To get it moving in the right direction takes a lot.”
— Nick Johnson played like a conference MVP and scored 25 points to lead No. 3 Arizona to a 74-69 win over Oregon State at Gill Coliseum. Kaleb Tarczewski added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats (28-2, 15-2 Pac-12), who already had clinched the regular-season conference title and No. 1 seed in next week’s Pac-12 Tournament. The Wildcats have won five straight with their last loss Feb. 14 at archrival Arizona State. Johnson said: “We want to finish this season out as strong as possible. We don’t want to take an L, not play hard, because, I mean, that carries over to the next game. We have ourselves a little momentum going here.”
— The loss locked Oregon State (15-14, 7-10) in the 10th seed for the conference tournament. If there’s any consolation for the Beavers, Wednesday’s back-and-forth game wasn’t decided until the final minutes. Roberto Nelson scored 25 points and Devon Collier had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Beavers.
— Josh Scott had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Xavier Johnson scored 14 points for Colorado, which boosted its chances for a first-round bye in next week’s Pac-12 Tournament with a 59-56 victory over Stanford at Maples Pavilion. The win stopped a two-game skid for the Buffaloes (21-9, 10-7). It was their first road win outside of Colorado against a winning team.
— Meanwhile, Seattle Seahawks and former Stanford standout Richard Sherman gave the Cardinal a pep talk about “seizing the moment” before facing Colorado on Wednesday night. Instead, Sherman sat in the stands with fellow alum Andrew Luck and watched the Cardinal (18-11, 9-8) suffer another late-season setback. Josh Huestis finished with nine points and 13 rebounds and Dwight Powell added eight points for Stanford, which is trying to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in six seasons under Dawkins, who is facing an increasing amount of pressure each year that drought persist.The Cardinal, who made the tournament in the 13 of 14 seasons prior to his arrival, will likely need a strong run in Las Vegas next week for an at-large bid in the Big Dance now.
— Brandon Taylor converted the go-ahead free throws with 1:46 remaining and hit a three-pointer with 51.2 seconds left and Utah held off California 63-59 on Wednesday at Haas Pavilion to give coach Larry Krystkowiak his first 20-win season in three years with the Utes. Taylor also knocked down two timely 3-pointers and a layup midway through the second half on the way to 13 points. Utah (20-9, 9-8 Pac-12) won its third straight and hope a nice run at next week’s Pac-12 tourney might boost their NCAA tournament hopes.
— Time is running out for California to salvage its NCAA tourney hopes. The Golden Bears (18-12, 9-8) have lost three in a row and they’re 4-8 in the past 12 games. Richard Solomon had 19 points and 14 rebounds and Tyrone Wallace scored 11 while Justin Cobbs was limited to six points on 2-for-6 shooting — well below his 15.8 scoring average.
— When Oregon hosts No. 3 Arizona on Saturday, it will be the first sellout this season at Matthew Knight Arena.
— Poor attendance has been a league-wide epidemic in the Pac-12. UCLA reported a bump in attendance last season at renovated Pauley Pavilion, but the crowds are smaller this season.
TODAY’S PAC-12 SCHEDULE:
UCLA (22-7, 11-5) at Washington (16-13, 8-8), 6 p.m. PT … ESPN2
USC (19-19, 1-15) at Washington State (9-19, 2-14), 8 p.m. …… ESPNU