Sunday, February 13, 2011

Huskies improve to 13-0 at home with 87-76 win over Stanford!

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies extending their home winning streak to 14 games dating back to last season. The Huskies avenged an earlier loss to the Stanford Cardinal which you can read about here. The Washington Huskies(17-7,9-4) defeated the Stanford Cardinal(13-11,6-7)87-76 in a game that wasn't as close as the scoreboard showed. The Huskies led at halftime 48-31 as they had made 8-20 from three point range including four by Thomas in the final three minutes. The Huskies were once again led by Isaiah Thomas who scored 22 points in the victory. The Huskies also received a season high 12 points from Venoy Overton over the Cardinals. Thomas scored 12 of his 22 points in the final three minutes of the half turning a close game into a blowout. The Huskies will now hit the road down in Arizona for a key matchup that will decide if they have a shot at winning the Pac-10 regular season championship or not.

The Huskies got off to a slow start in the first half but had the lead due to the defensive pressure. The first half was highlighted by Terrence Ross dunk where he was on the right baseline drove to the hoop and threw down a monsterous dunk. Showed great display of athletic ability. Then with about three minutes to go in the game Isaiah Thomas took over drilling four three pointers the last two were even deep by NBA standards. Those three's by Thomas turned a five point lead into a 17 point lead at halftime as the Huskies led 48-31. The Huskies once again in the first half thrived on the three point shot making 8-20(40.0%) from three point range and 17-37(45.9%) from the field.

The Huskies were led by Thomas who was scoreless until the three minute mark then erupted for 14 points. Thomas scored 14 points on four for nine shooting including four for eight from three point range. His backup Senior guard Venoy Overton who is starting to play well was the next leading scorer with eight points on two for six shooting including a three pointer. Scott Suggs added seven points on three for four shooting with just one three pointer. Suggs was attacking the hole more than usual. Then the other two stars Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored six points on three for five shooting and Justin Holiday scored six points on two for four shooting from three point range. The Huskies for the second straight game at home turned it into a blowout. The Huskies for the second straight game didn't look like the team who had lost three in a row to middle of the road Pac-10 teams.

In the second half the Huskies played extremely well. Don't be fooled by the Cardinals outscoring them 45-39. Most of those points came at the end of the game in garbage time. In the second half the Huskies only attempted nine three point attempts. The Huskies instead focused on working the ball inside to Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye. In the second half Bryan-Amaning scored nine points while N'Diaye scored six points. The Huskies also had a new face running the point this game. Overton who had been in a long slump finally busted out of it this week. Overton was creating easy buckets for the Huskies big guys. Overton was often seen slashing to the hole creating opportunities for others. The Huskies also shot 21 free throws in the process by being agressive in the second half. Three pointers are more flashy but lay ups although boring are a higher percentage shot.

The Huskies in the second half received two highlight worthy dunks. First N'Diaye caught the ball three from the bucket and threw it down monster jam style. N'Diaye got a technical for hanging on the rim for to long. Another highlight dunk was when Bryan-Amaning missed a hook shot Terrence Ross came flying in for the dunk off the backboard. The Huskies would cruise to an 87-76 win. Thomas led all scorers with 22 points on 6-12 shooting including 4-10 from three point range. Bryan-Amaning scored 15 points on 6-10 shooting while grabbing six rebounds. Overton then scored a season high 12 points on three for eight shooting while dishing out four assists to zero assists. C.J. Wilcox may have broken out of his slump and he played a good all around game as well. Wilcox scored 10 points on three for eight shooting including two for seven from three point range. Wilcox also added two steals and a block shot. N'Diaye finished with nine points on four for four shooting with six rebounds and three blocks. Suggs finished with seven points while Holiday just six as both were scoreless in the second half. Ross may have had just four points both on highlight type dunks but he also added six rebounds with three assists. Overall the Huskies once again with balance prevailed at home as they improve to 13-0 this year at Hec Ed.

What does this week mean for the Huskies? Well that is hard to tell as the Huskies are 13-0 at home with all 13 wins coming by double digits. I don't think this week tells us anything since everyone already knows the Huskies are tough at home. The Huskies can take comfort in knowing that Venoy Overton appears to have put the off the court issues behind him this week. The Huskies can also take comfort in C.J. Wilcox and Isaiah Thomas shooting slumps appearing to be over as well. The Huskies hit tons of threes this homestand and of course that will get all the attention. The Huskies won by blowout fassion by playing some great defense. The Huskies had six blocks and six steals while forcing 19 turnovers by Stanford. When Lorenzo Romar teams are playing at their top potential defense is the catalyst that leads the charge. The Huskies will have a chance to show the nation and especially a certain recruit who was in the stands tonight that next week they are the team to beat in the Pac-10.


- Venoy Overton had one of his better games of the year. In today's contest Overton scored 12 points, had four assists and no turnovers. Overton played very smart in his 23 minutes. Overton was a big part of last year's sweet 16 team averaging 8.5 points per game in 23 minutes a night.

Overton prior to this homestand was struggling. Averaging just 4.1 points per game, with 2.6 assists and 1.7 turnovers in the previous 10 games. On this homestand though Overton averaged 10.0 points per game, 5.5 assists per game and one turnover a game. Not jaw dropping numbers but key contributions. Overton is a key 6th man for the Huskies and with Abdul Gaddy gone he can't afford to struggle. With two road games remaining and only one in a hostile environment hopefully Overton's struggles have gone away.

- As I noted last game when Isaiah Thomas shoots well the Huskies win. Today he made 6-12 shots including 4-10 from three pointers. Thomas who is only a career 32.6% shooter from three point range was an outstanding 10-18(55.5%) from three point range after shooting 4-17(23.5%) from three point range the previous three games all of which were losses.

I'd like to see Thomas penetrate the basket more often instead of relying on only three point shots. Thomas is most effective when he is doing that instead of jacking up three's the whole game. As you can see the three ball comes and goes but high percentage two point shots are much more consistent. Thomas only had one assist today to five turnovers but he was mostly playing shooting guard today as Overton ran the point.

- Aziz N'Diaye played his best game in Pac-10 season. He hit all four field goal attempts, scored a league high nine points plus he blocked three shots while pulling down six rebounds. N'Diaye has now blocked three shots in back to back games. After hitting a low point in the season at Oregon State where he scored zero points and didn't even attempt a shot in 12 ineffective minutes he has played well the last three games.

In the last three games N'Diaye is averaging 6.7 points per game shooting an amazing 9-10(90.0%) from the field while grabbing 6.3 rebounds a game. He also blocked two shots a game in that span while averaging 19 minutes a game. Like Overton not jaw dropping numbers but if N'Diaye can at least be a threat to score and stay out of foul trouble the Huskies can go far in the tournament.

I'd like to see the Huskies feature our two big guys more this year. N'Diaye is shooting 60% on the year while Bryan-Amaning is shooting 57% from the field this year. When the big guys are involved they also rack up fouls on the opposing team so more free throw attempts for the Huskies guards. When you get the big guys involved that will draw double teams which will allow open three pointers. On this homestand N'Diaye and Bryan-Amaning combined to shoot 22-31(70.9%) from the field.

Overall this week was nice for the sake of confidence. The Huskies may have cost themselves a chance at winning the Pac-10 regular season title. The Huskies can't worry about the past but about improving their play going forward. Even if the Huskies beat the Arizona Wildcats next week the Wildcats could still win the Pac-10 championship even if the Huskies don't lose another game. The Huskies can't worry about that just about playing good ball which involves Overton, N'Diaye and Wilcox playing like they did this homestand. Thomas to continue shooting well because when he shoots well the Huskies win, when he shoots bad they lose as is mostly the case with most teams star players. Romar teams have been here before and unless the Huskies collapse once again they should make the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in the last eight years. Before we get ahead of ourselves it feels good to win again. Now the Huskies will have a huge test down in Arizona this week especially on Saturday at Tucson where the Huskies haven't won since 2006.

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