Friday, February 11, 2011
Thomas leads Huskies hot shooting in 109-77 blowout win over Golden Bears
The Washington Huskies(16-7,8-4) returned home after losing three in a row on the road. When the Huskies returned home so did their three point shot. In the previous three road games the Huskies shot just 29-87(33.3%) from three point range. Today the Huskies led by Isaiah Thomas shot 17-31(54.8%) from three point range which was the difference. It didn't matter who the Huskies played today as they shot red hot from beyond the arc. For the second time this year the Huskies crushed the California Golden Bears. The Washington Huskies destroyed the California Golden Bears(13-11,6-6) 109-77 which has been the theme all season long. The Huskies are a tough team to beat at home. In fact the Huskies have yet to have a game finish under double figures at home this season. The Huskies responded with a nice home win but eventually must prove they can win away from Hec Ed.
The Huskies came out in the first half ready to show there would not be a repeat performance like we all saw on the road. The Huskies sprinted out to a 21-8 lead then stretched that lead to 40-17. Eventually the Huskies led at halftime 58-34 as the Huskies shot lights out from three point range. The Huskies connected on 10-17(58.8%) from three point range and shot 22-37(59.5%) from the field in the first half. The Huskies even shot a perfect four for four from the foul line. The Huskies outrebounded California 17-9 as well with five block shots. The Huskies had just four turnovers in the first half meaning California had to earn their points. The Golden Bears shot 13-26(50.0%) from the field but didn't hit a three pointer and struggled from the foul line 8-12(66.7%). The Huskies made sure just like the first meeting that the game would be over in the first half.
In the first half the Huskies were led by Isaiah Thomas who scored 11 points and dished out six assists. Thomas shot three for four from three point range in the first half. Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored 10 points on five for six shooting in the first half as well. The other member of the big three Justin Holiday also had a strong half with eight points hitting both three point attempts. The Huskies also had nice contributions from their other two starters Aziz N'Diaye who had six points and four rebounds on three for four shooting. Scott Suggs hit two three pointers in the first half to give him six points in the half. The Huskies starters came out to play.
In the second half it was still the same story. The Huskies kept launching and making three pointers while the Golden Bears couldn't stop the mighty Huskies offense from exploding. For the sixth time this season the Huskies scored over 100 points that is also a school record. The Huskies in the second half scored 51 points while shooting 21-39(53.8%) from the field with 7-14(50.0%) from beyond the arc. The Huskies added six more blocks in the second half. For the game the Huskies shot 43-76(56.6%) from the field and an amazing 17-31(54.8%) from three point range. The Huskies also added 11 blocks and out rebounded the Golden Bears 36-27. The Huskies took care of the ball as well with 30 assists to just nine turnovers on the game. The Huskies had great ball movement and shot the ball exceptionally well from beyond the arc having six guys score in double figures and all nine scholarship players scoring at least six points.
The Huskies received great play from everyone on their roster. Led by Isaiah Thomas who scored 23 points on 7-11 shooting including six of eight from three point range. Thomas also dished out nine assists to just two turnovers. In the process Thomas passed Steve Hawes to move into eight all-time in Huskies history in scoring. Matthew Bryan-Amaning had a good game as well scoring 18 points on 9-13 shooting, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked four shots. For the first time in Pac-10 play the Huskies received good play from C.J. Wilcox who scored 14 points drilling four for seven from three point range. Justin Holiday scored 12 points on 5-10 shooting with two three pointers along with four rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Terrence Ross had a good all around game with 11 points on five for eight shooting with a three pointer. Ross also added four rebounds, a career high six assists and two block shots. Scott Suggs scored 11 points on three for five shooting from three point range. Venoy Overton had one of his better games in a while scoring eight points including a three pointer and dishing out seven assists. Aziz N'Diaye finished with six points but also blocked three shots helping the Huskies in the middle. Darnell Gant also added six points and also added five rebounds. It was a great all around team effor by the Huskies in the blowout win over the Golden Bears.
The Huskies now improve to 8-4 in Pac-10 play which isn't where they would like to be. The Huskies find themselves trailing by one and a half games behind leader Arizona Wildcats. The Huskies now must win out their remaining Pac-10 games to even have a shot at the regular season title. The Huskies today shot lights out and not even Ohio State could have defeated them tonight. The problem is what if those three's aren't falling then what? This win was great but it was kind of fools gold in my opinion. This is the type of win everyone feels good about themselves despite shooting 31 three pointers to just seven free throw attempts. There is still plenty of work to be done for the Huskies. This was a must win and the Huskies took care of business. Lorenzo Romar's teams are pretty tough at home having lost just three games the past three seasons at home. Now the Huskies must take this improved play on the road to try and win the Pac-10 championship. At least the Huskies shooting woes appear to be over which is a good thing going forward.
- Isaiah Thomas played like he did when the Huskies were 7-1 in Pac-10 play. Before I praise Thomas for this game I'll take you back to how he shot the previous three games. Thomas was just 10-34(29.4%) shooting including 4-17(23.5%) from three point range. Thomas was averaging just 13.7 points per game with 5.7 assists per game but 5.3 turnovers a game during the losing streak.
For today Thomas was spectatular and reminded me of Michael Jordan against the Blazers in game one of the 1992 NBA finals. He was on fire hitting a career high six three pointers. Thomas shot 7-11(63.6%) from the field and was 6-8(75.0%) from three point range. Both are a far cry from how he shot during the losing streak. Thomas also added nine assists to just two turnovers. I think the three's are a bit of a fluke but the rest is the real Thomas unlike the previous three games. Thomas even hit an incredible three while being fouled in the second half. Thomas was bombing three's like MJ did in that famous game against Portland.
The Huskies will only go as far as Thomas takes this team. Every Husky tournament team has the "guy". In 2005 that was Nate Robinson's team, in 2006 it was Brandon Roy's. In 2009 that was Jon Brockman's team and last year it was Quincy Pondexter's team. This year it is Isaiah Thomas team and when he plays well the Huskies win. When he plays poorly they lose. In the Huskies seven losses this year Thomas averages just 13.4 points per game while shooting 25-78(32.1%)from the field and 8-34(23.5%) from three point range.
In the Huskies 16 wins this year Thomas is averaging 18.3 points per game while shooting 95-189(50.2%) from the field and 34-79(43.0%) from three point range. As you can clearly see where Thomas goes the team goes. Blaming role players for losses appears silly when Thomas averages a difference of five points a game between wins and losses. He also shoots 18.1% higher in field goal range and 19.5% higher from three point range which is an extra made bucket out of five. Those five points could have came in play in the Huskies four losses this year. So just remember if Thomas is playing well the Huskies will win if he playing poorly odds are the Huskies won't win.
- Here is a picture of C.J. Wilcox diving for a loose ball which is the trademark for Romar teams. This was a breakthrough game for Wilcox as he hadn't scored in double figures since December 4th against Texas Tech when he dropped 11 points. Wilcox was just 4-21(19.0%) from three point range in Pac-10 play before today. Today Wilcox scored 14 points but most importantly drained 4-7(57.1%) from three point range. If the Huskies can get Wilcox going that would really help their shooting woes.
Another freshman I felt played really well was Terrence Ross. Ross scored 11 points on five for eight shooting. Ross only shot three three pointers so he was being active slashing to the hole. Ross added four rebounds and six assists to go with two blocks. Ross had a Justin Holiday type of game where he just filled up the stat sheet. In a game where the team scores 109 points hard to get noticed scoring just 11 points. Ross did just that showing his athletic ability and I'd like to see more games like this from him.
Another shooter I'll talk about is Scott Suggs. Suggs scored 11 points drilling three for five from three point range. He was four for eight overall shooting. Suggs has started to come on as of late as a starter which is good to see. The Huskies have struggled shooting from three's lately but not Suggs who in the past four games counting today is 11-28(39.2%) from three point range.
As long as these three wings play well the Huskies can go far. The problem is usually two of these three guys if not all three have a habit of disappearing especially on the road. With some confidence maybe these three can finally start performing on a consistent basis.
All in all, the Huskies did what they had to do. The Huskies have digged themselves a hole under Romar. Romar I'm sure isn't pressing the panic button he has seen his teams struggle in 2004, 2006 and 2010 and all make the NCAA tournament. The Huskies aren't done this year and still have plenty of ball left to be played. Today was a good win but it might have been fools gold. The Huskies shot 31 three point attempts to just seven free throws. The difference today was the Huskies made 17 three pointers while normally they make 8-9 in their losses. That is a difference of 24-27 points which would put this game a lot closer. The Huskies can't expect to shoot this hot every game. They must find a way to win by not just relying on the three point shot. Until the Huskies can win with defense like they have in the past this March will once again end in disappointment. Hopefully the Huskies can start playing better all around ball as Romar is cutting down the nets at Staples Arena for the second straight year.