Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thomas leads #21 Huskies in 94-72 win over Pilots

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(6-2) survived a rally by the Portland Pilots(7-3) and eventually pulled away for a 94-72 victory. The Huskies once again used balanced scoring in the victory as they saw 10 different guys score and four different guys score in double figures. Leading the way for the Huskies was the two Co-Captains in Isaiah Thomas who scored 20 points on 7 for 13 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out four assists. The other Co-Captain Justin Holiday also matched his career high 20 points which is sure to be going up as he shot five of seven from the field including three of four from beyond the arc, Holiday would also add six rebounds. The Huskies used the three point shot once again in the victory over the Pilots shooting 13 of 23(56.5%)from beyond the arc as seven different Huskies hit three point shots. Overall the Huskies passed the tune up test as they prepare for their first road game of the season.

The Huskies began the game for the straight game with Aziz N'Diaye starting at center with Matthew Bryan-Amaning coming off the bench. Lorenzo Romar has had future NBA lottery picks Brandon Roy and Spencer Hawes come off the bench so Bryan-Amaning can come off the bench as well. Romar has stated before he doesn't start the five best players he starts the best group that plays well together. The Huskies started off slow only up 32-26 then went on a run to extend the lead to 39-28 after Terrence Ross hit a three pointer and the Huskies stretched the lead to 46-31 at halftime. Just like on Saturday Justin Holiday hit three three pointers in the first half leading the Huskies with 14 points. Isaiah Thomas also added 13 points after scoring four points most of the first half.

The second half saw the Pilots come out and hit two three pointers to cut the lead to 46-37 but Abdul Gaddy hit his second three pointer of the game and Darnell Gant drilled another three pointer to extend the lead to 54-39. It was looking like the Huskies were going to run away with this game up 59-41 and 68-52 in the second. Then the Pilots went on a 10-0 to cut the lead to 68-62 which made the crowd very nervous. That is when Scott Suggs took over who to this point was playing like the 10th man. Suggs drilled a three pointer to extend the lead to 71-62 then Suggs hit another lead to put the lead at 75-62. Suggs would hit another three later in the game. The Huskies ran away from the game winning 94-72. The Huskies bench was money once again scoring 41 points compared to the Pilots 22 bench points.

The Huskies were led by Holiday and Thomas scoring 20 points. They were also helped out by their bench play of Matthew Bryan-Amaning who scored 15 points on five for seven shooting, grabbed six rebounds, record three steals and had a block shot. Scott Suggs scored 13 points and provided some good defense. Suggs also finally found his three point shot drilling three for six three pointers. The Huskies also had a good solid game from Abdul Gaddy who scored eight points, dished out six assists while turning the ball over just once. Gaddy also showing off his much improved range hit two three pointers.

The Portland Pilots were able to hang in this game because of the play of Luke Sikma. Sikma as you may know is the son of Seattle Supersonics legend Jack Sikma. Sikma was 7 for 10 shooting score 14 points while grabbing 16 rebounds for the Pilots. The Pilots also add a good game from Nemanja Mitrovic who was 5 for 10 from beyond the arc for 15 points. The Pilots won 21 games last season so they aren't a joke. They defeated the UCLA Bruins last year by 30 points, defeated Montana in Montana this year who just recently beat UCLA down in UCLA. As fans may remember they defeated the Washington Huskies two years ago in Isaiah Thomas first game as a Husky. That Husky team went on to win the Pac-10 regular season title. Head coach Eric Reveno might be looking to upgrade pretty soon because he has shown he is a good coach while building up a poor program.

Meanwhile for the Huskies they did what they had to do which was take care of their business. The Huskies were never in danger of losing this game and instead of pressing the panic button when the Pilots went on a run they responded. This Huskies team has it's fair share of fire power as they currently have five guys who are averaging double figures in scoring entering today. The Huskies are deep and all ten guys on the team has value case in point today with Suggs a player that most wrote off responded with back to back huge three pointers. Now the Huskies play at Texas A & M this Saturday in a huge test. The Huskies have just one non conference road win under Romar in the last five seasons. This will be the final test the Huskies have before Pac-10 play here is hoping they finally past that test.


- The three point shooting is terrific. I don't get why fans complain that the Huskies shoot to many three pointers. In fact I felt the team didn't shoot enough against Kentucky or Michigan State. When good shooters are shooting three pointers I'm not going to complain. The Huskies were 13-23 from three point land. Holiday was 3-4, Suggs 3-6, Wilcox 2-4, Gaddy 2-3, Gant 1-1, Thomas 1-2 and Ross was 1-1. I want to see Holiday, Suggs, Wilcox, Gaddy and even Gant shooting three pointers. Those are high percentage shots for them. With the exception of Thomas and Overton I don't mind when the other guys shoot three pointers.

- Aziz N'Diaye has really struggled since Maui. N'Diaye was terrific in the Maui invitational and could still be rusty from not playing last year. He hasn't been very effective since becoming a starter. Today in only 12 minutes N'Diaye had just two points but grabbed five rebounds. Since becoming a starter N'Diaye in three games is averaging 12.3 minutes a game, 2.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and he has recorded just one block shot. While when he was coming off the bench he was averaging 17.6 minutes a game, 6.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 2.2 blocks a game. The team is 3-0 when he starts but they have also played some bad teams maybe he plays better when coming off the bench.

- Good to see Nate Robinson at the game. Nate Robinson played for the Huskies three years during Romar's first three years in fact. While at Washington Robinson was two-time first team all pac-10 back to back. No player in the Romar years has been first team back to back years and only Brockman has been first team twice. Thomas will most likely join him this year in that category. Speaking of Thomas next up on the career scoring list that he'll pass up is Nate Robinson. Robinson while at Washington hit the shot against Oregon State that changed basketball forever for the Huskies. Robinson now is a spark off the bench for the defending Eastern Conference Champions Boston Celtics. Robinson of course got a standing ovation. Robinson wore #2 and now Thomas is wearing #2 lets just say the next guy who wears that number better live up to it.

All in all it was a good win for the Huskies. They survive a scare and responded by going on a run instead of playing tight like they did in Maui. The Huskies like I've been stressing all along have a big test this Saturday playing on the road at Texas A & M. The Huskies and the Pac-10 need that win. The Pac-10 with the exception of Arizona Wildcats hasn't had a good non conference season so far. The Huskies must find a way to keep their composure and play their game this Saturday on the road. The Huskies game is drive and kick to open shooters, running teams out of the gym and playing terrific defense. They got away from that in the Kentucky game while against Michigan State they played their game for the most part. This is the final test for the Huskies in the non conference schedule before Pac-10 play begins down in L.A. at USC on December 29th. The Huskies are deep and loaded which is what you need when you go on the road. I feel like this team will pass the test this Saturday.

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