Saturday, March 19, 2011

Huskies win NCAA first game over Bulldogs 68-65

By Kshell

The 7th seeded Washington Huskies(24-10,11-7) survived a late rally by the 10th seeded Georgia Bulldogs(21-12,9-7) to win 68-65 in the first game of the NCAA tournament. The Huskies also set school history making this the first time they have won an NCAA tournament game three years in a row. The Huskies were once again led by Pac-10 tournament MVP Isaiah Thomas who scored 19 points while dishing out seven assists. The Huskies also received a big boost from their bench as the Huskies reserves outscored the Bulldogs reserves 28-0. The Huskies overcame a big game by Trey Thompkins who scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The Huskies also overcame an early seven point deficit to the Bulldogs. The Huskies with this win have now won at least one tournament game in Lorenzo Romar's last five appearances in the NCAA tournament. The Huskies also won on the east coast for the first time in over a decade. The Huskies took care of business which is all you want in the tournament.

The first half saw the Huskies struggle making their shots. The Huskies found themselves trailing 23-16 after the Bulldogs went on a 9-0 run. The season was in danger of ending if the Bulldogs had went on another run. Instead the Huskies closed the half out on a 12-5 run led by Thomas attacking the hole and setting up his teammates. Despite being dominated in the first half the Huskies rallied to tie it at 28-28 at halftime. The Bulldogs had shot 11-27(40.7%) from the field and made three of six three pointers. They were led by Thompkins who scored 15 points on six for eight shooting with six rebounds. The Huskies had shot 12-38(31.6%) from the field and a disasterous 2-14(14.3%) from three point range. The Huskies were led by Scott Suggs who scored seven points on three for seven shooting with a three pointer. Matthew Bryan-Amaning added six points on three for seven shooting with four rebounds. Thomas scored just four points on two for eight shooting but had four assists. The Huskies bench outscored the Bulldogs 14-0.

In the second half the Huskies after giving up the lead went on a 12-2 run to go up 40-32. The Huskies the rest of the half led by Thomas controlled the half being up by 8-10 points the entire half. The Huskies also shot better shooting 14-22(63.6%) and made two for four from three point range. The Huskies also were 10-12(83.3%) from the free throw line in the second half. The Bulldogs did make the game interesting trailing by 10 inside two minutes the Huskies tried to give the game away. With turnovers, dumb fouls and missed free throws the Huskies found themselves up just two points with 3.7 seconds left. Freshman C.J. Wilcox hit the first free throw to put the Huskies up three. Wilcox missed the second free throw which was rebounded by Jeremy Price who threw an outlet pass which was broken up by Thomas. Thomas leaped up like Nate Robinson to deflect the pass forcing the Bulldogs to take a tough three point shot which was missed. The Huskies had survived to win the tournament game over the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were led by Thompkins who scored 26 points on 11-14 shooting including two three pointers and 11 rebounds.

The Huskies were led by Isaiah Thomas once again. Thomas finished 6-14 shooting but a perfect seven for seven at the foul line. Thomas scored 19 points and dished out seven assists. The Huskies received great team scoring today as their bench outscored the Bulldogs 28-0. Leading the reserves was Scott Suggs who scored 10 points on four for seven shooting including two three's. Matthew Bryan-Amaning is still struggling scoring just eight points on three for eight shooting with just six rebounds. Darnell Gant who made the start this game overcame two quick fouls to score seven points on three for five shooting including a three. Then the Huskies had Justin Holiday, Aziz N'Diaye, Venoy Overton and C.J. Wilcox all score six points. The Huskies for the game shot 12-14(85.7%) from the foul line for the game. For the Huskies it was business as usual winning an NCAA tournament game. This is the fourth win for the Huskies in the last three years.

Overall the Huskies won an NCAA tournament game but that wasn't the goal. The goal heading into the year wasn't to win just one tournament game. The Huskies will now take on the University of North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday. The Huskies took care of business when they had to in the second half to stretch the lead. That was mainly because of Thomas who scored 15 points in the second half on four for six shooting. Thomas was electric in the second half and then saved the game with his defense at the end. The Huskies won't have much time to enjoy this win. In just 36 hours after the game the Huskies will be taking on North Carolina. The opportunity the Huskies have in this game will be huge. Just don't forget to enjoy this win for at least a day.


- Thomas playing in his sixth career tournament game was big once again. After a slow start Thomas finished with 19 points and seven assists. In the process Thomas passed Huskies Honks Eldridge Recasner for sixth all-time in Huskies history in points. Thomas is just 35 points away from fifth place so if the Huskies were to win on Sunday he could pass it this year.

Thomas in the NCAA tournament has played pretty well scoring in double figures in five straight games. For the tournament Thomas is averaging 16.5 points per game on 34-85(40.0%) from the field. He has also averaged 5.7 assists per game. Thomas isn't a player who freezes up in big games. Thomas along with Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Venoy Overton, Darnell Gant and Justin Holiday will tie Brandon Roy, Mike Jensen and Bobby Jones in playing in their seventh tournament game this Sunday. That will be a Huskies record for most tournament games played.

- The Huskies defense played really well after trailing early on 23-16. Thompkins scored 26 of the Bulldogs 65 points. The Huskies in the second half denied Thompkins the ball in long stretches at a time. The Huskies had six steals. Thomas and Holiday each had two steals while Bryan-Amaning and Terrence Ross each had a steal.

The stats are a bit skewed since the Huskies fell apart in the final two minutes. In the first 18 minutes of that half the Huskies really put the pressure on the Bulldogs. The defense pressure is what got the Huskies back into the game and then gave them the nice lead in the second half. The Huskies will need to apply that same pressure to North Carolina who played sloppy yet still scored 102 points. The Huskies won the Pac-10 tournament because they shot lights out. They won due to their great defensive play.

- Nice win for Lorenzo Romar as he improves to 8-5(8-6 overall) as Huskies head coach in the NCAA tournament. Romar once again changed the starting lineup starting Darnell Gant in place of C.J. Wilcox to defend the Bulldogs size. Romar also played Venoy Overton more minutes than Scott Suggs, C.J. Wilcox and Terrence Ross. Romar isn't afraid of being second guessed and made some head scratching moves that worked well.

The Huskies also won because of the trademark for Romar teams which is good defense and hustle. The Huskies shot terrible from three point range. The Huskies due to choking at the end against the Bulldogs have now won three straight games by five points or less after losing their first six. Romar has an experience tournament team which features five guys playing in their seventh tournament game and another guy playing in his sixth game this Sunday against North Carolina. Romar is the only coach to lead the Huskies to the NCAA tournament three years in a row has done that now twice. Well Romar is the first Huskies coach to win an NCAA tournament game three years in a row.

All in all the Huskies were favored and won the game they were supposed to win. In the NCAA tournament it doesn't matter how you look just as long as you advance. The Huskies have some area's to clean up as does North Carolina. The Huskies after playing in this gym should start having their shots fall. The Huskies also won a game in which they couldn't shoot well and only Thomas scored more than 11 points. This was a total team effort as eight guys scored over six points. Now the Huskies should enjoy this win as they set history winning a tournament game three years in a row. The Huskies will have a chance to achieve their biggest win in the last 50 years for this program. The Huskies have a chance to beat a historic program in their backyard. Just don't forget to enjoy this win is all. The upperclassman have done a great job leaving their mark at the University of Washington. It would be nice if they could provide the biggest victory of the Lorenzo Romar era this sunday.

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