Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Huskies defeat Bruins 74-63 in Pauley
The Washington Huskies(10-3,2-0) defeated the UCLA Bruins(9-5,1-1) 74-63 for the first time at Pauley Pavilion since 2006. The Huskies made a huge statement to the Pac-10 with their road sweep over the L.A. schools which happened to be the first time since 1976 the Huskies began Pac-10 play with a road sweep. The Huskies sustained a late run from the Bruins to hang on for the win 74-63 led by Matthew Bryan-Amaning scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. The Huskies also had a big game from Isaiah Thomas who scored 17 points and dished out nine assists. When the Huskies play like they did in Los Angeles they can go a long ways.
The game began with no buzz in the crowd and plenty of Husky fans. The Huskies began the game up 18-13 as Terrence Ross came in off the bench and scored four quick points. Justin Holiday then hit a three pointer to put the Huskies up 23-19 but received a questionable technical. UCLA would take it's first lead 24-23 when Reeves Nelson drove to the bucket. The Huskies would then go on a run to end the half up 38-31. Ross added seven points for the Huskies and Holiday scored six points and had five rebounds. Thomas already had six assists at halftime as he was driving the hole including kicking to an open Ross right before halftime.
In the second half the Huskies came out ready. Extending their 38-31 lead to 46-34 when Bryan-Amaning threw down a monster jam which brought the Husky fans like myself to their feet. The Huskies ran the lead up to 52-35 before another UCLA timeout. Just when I thought the game was going to be an easy blowout UCLA started to make a run cutting the game to 55-51 at one point. UCLA was helped out by several foul calls as they shot 36 free throws but only hit 25 of them. When it came down to it the Bruins just couldn't hit that big time shot.
With the Huskies leading 68-62 the Bruins missed an open three pointer and the Huskies took advantage. Thomas drove the hole kicked it out to a wide open Darnell Gant who drained the three pointer to give the Huskies a 71-62 lead with under three minutes to go in the game. At that point the Bruins fans were leaving the game. The Huskies held on for the win 74-63 as Venoy Overton toss the ball in the air.
The Huskies before Lorenzo Romar took over as head coach of the Huskies had beaten the Bruins just twice in Pauley Pavilion. They have now equalled that total in the Romar era. The Huskies received great play from Bryan-Amaning who shot 8-15, five of six from free throws and scored 21 points with 10 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas scored 17 points on just five for nine shooting while dishing out nine assists. Justin Holiday added nine points and eight rebounds and Aziz N'Diaye scored six points and grabbed six rebounds and limited Josh Smith to just nine points and seven rebounds.
All in all the Huskies swept an important road trip which they were just 1-7 the previous four years. The Huskies are starting to play well as a team as Thomas is playing unselfish and Bryan-Amaning is flourishing at power forward. The Huskies are still playing great defense which is a staple of the Romar teams. As long as the Huskies play this kind of basketball there is no reason this team shouldn't win the Pac-10 title this year. The Huskies are starting to hit their mark and with a homestand against teams who they are 8-1 against the last two years the Huskies could easily start off 4-0 in conference play.
- Isaiah Thomas showed why he is the best player in the conference with the win over UCLA. When Thomas is only shooting two three pointers a game and is focusing on passing first he is very dangerous. Thomas had nine assists and if the Huskies shot better from threes(4-15) could have had 12-13 assists. Thomas was blowing by the defenders and kicking it to open teammates.
Thomas was also finding N'Diaye and Bryan-Amaning for easy buckets as well. Thomas was also hitting his shot and driving to the hole. He was hitting his free throws(6-7, including last 6) and playing smart basketball. Thomas didn't take any dumb shots and basically ran point guard whole second half. Thomas takes a ton of crap but if he plays like he did against UCLA the Huskies will be going far in the tournament.
- As I was walking the campus after the game I saw UCLA and former Washington head football coach Rick Neuheisel to my right about five feet away. Neuheisel currently finds himself on the hotseat at UCLA going 4-8,7-6,4-8 in his three years at UCLA. While at Washington I broke down his era in a pretty lengthy post you can read by clicking here
- The play of the Husky big men was terrific. Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored 21 points and added 10 rebounds(Won Pac-10 player of the week btw), Aziz N'Diaye scored six points and six rebounds and Darnell Gant scored six points but grabbed just two rebounds.
Romar has to figure out a way manage the foul situation. UCLA shot 36 free throws to the Huskies 15 and for the second straight game N'Diaye fouled out. On one hand he can stick with the starting lineup as the Huskies are now controlling the rebounds, playing great inside defense and Bryan-Amaning has been dominating. On the other hand N'Diaye needs to be on the court.
Romar could possibly start Gant and then start N'Diaye in the second half when on the road. I do like it when both N'Diaye and Bryan-Amaning are on the floor together. The Huskies are really hard to score on and Bryan-Amaning when facing guys smaller than him dominates like he did with USC and UCLA. The Huskies got N'Diaye for weekends like this and he played well defensively and allowed Bryan-Amaning to destroy the other teams powerforwards.
For the Washington Huskies to get the road sweep was huge. Thomas and Bryan-Amaning played like the best two players on the team. Holiday played great defense, rebounding and scored when needed. The Huskies played team basketball which starts with defense. When the Huskies play defense and are sharing the ball they are a tough team to beat. My trip to Pauley was terrific even though I went with a Bruins Alum but she was very nice. I'm happy to say I saw a Huskies win at Pauley Pavilion. When the Huskies play unselfih they are hard to beat. Romar's boys made a huge statement to the rest of the Pac-10 to watch out for the dawgs!