Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Washington loses another tough test to #7 Duke

By Kshell

The #7 Duke Blue Devils(9-1,0-0) defeated the Washington Huskies(4-4,0-0) 86-80 at Madison Square Garden at New York City Saturday morning. The Blue Devils showed why they are a top 10 team due to their fundamental play while the Huskies showed they have talent just a matter of applying that young talent. The Huskies have now lost three games in a row all games they could have won. During this loss the Huskies did grow as a team as a young freshman Tony Wroten had a breakout game on the big stage. The Blue Devils were helped by a fast start as they took a 40-26 halftime lead over the Huskies then hung on for the late victory with 44 free throw attempts against the Huskies.

The first half was dominated by the Blue Devils as they led 40-26 over the Huskies. The Huskies shot poorly from the field, three pointers and free throws. The Blue Devils also dominated the Huskies at rebounding in the first half as well. The Huskies couldn't stop turning the ball over either and their transition defense was terrible. This looked like another game where the Huskies were going to lose big against a top tier opponent which last year they didn't do. The Blue Devils in the first half shot 15-35(42.9%) from the field, just 2-10(20.0%) from three point range and 8-9(88.9%) from the free throw line while grabbing 24 rebounds. They were led by Andre Dawkins who scored 14 points on 5-9 shooting while making two three pointers. Mason Plumlee scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds on 4-5 shooting. While Austin Rivers scored eight points on three for seven shooting.

For the Huskies they shot terribly 10-32(31.2%) from the field and just 2-9(22.2%) from three point range. Even struggled from the free throw line making only 4-9(44.4%) from the charity stripe. The Huskies were led by Tony Wroten who scored nine points on three for four shooting including a three pointer with three rebounds. C.J. Wilcox scored seven points on three for eight shooting but just one for four from three pointers. Terrence Ross had a horrible first half scoring just two points on one for nine shooting. Aziz N'Diaye score just two points on one for six shooting but did grab six rebounds.

The second half was a different story for the Huskies who found their offense. They also featured their youngster Wroten a little more as he continued to attack the hole setting himself up and his teammates up well. The Huskies shot 21-33(63.6%) from the field in the second half as they outscored the Blue Devils 54-46 but ultimately that wasn't enough as they lost 86-80. The Blue Devils did just enough to hang on which was mainly shoot 38 free attempts in the second half. The Blue Devils for the game shot 27-57(47.4%) from the field while making just 5-17(29.4%) from three pointers. They did make 27-44(61.4%) from free throws and outrebounded the Huskies 37-33. They were led by freshman Austin Rivers who scored 18 points on 6-13 shooting.

For the Huskies they shot 31-65(47.7%) from the field only 5-17(29.4%) from three pointers. They made just 13-23(56.5%) from the free throw line. They were led by Wroten who scored 23 points on 8-12 shooting including a three pointer. He was also 6-8 from the free throw line with five rebounds. C.J. Wilcox scored 22 points on 10-19 shooting with two three pointers. Terrence Ross rebounded from his disaster of a first half with 17 points on 7-17 shooting with two three pointers and seven rebounds. Abdul Gaddy chipped in with seven points on two for four shooting with seven assists. Darnell Gant added six points and four rebounds. Aziz N'Diaye scored four points with five rebounds. Desmond Simmons off the bench scored two points but added six rebounds with three assists. The Huskies had N'Diaye leave the game due to injury with Gaddy, Gant and Wroten also all fouling out.

In conclusion, this was a tough loss for the Huskies program but a good loss. The Huskies saw a star emerge in Tony Wroten. I think it is time for Lorenzo Romar to finally start  his young freshman star Wroten. Whether that means going with a four man guard lineup or simply benching Gaddy. The last two losses to ranked opponents were lost due to slow first half performances. Romar has also developed a bad habit of losing to ranked opponents out of conference away from home. The Huskies haven't beaten a team in this scenario since the Great Alaska shootout in the 2004-05 season. Romar needs to go with talent over experience if he expects to win these type of games. The Huskies will be without N'Diaye until Pac-12 play so look for Romar to experiment with the four guard lineup. This loss will only help the Huskies down the road as they realized they can go toe to toe with Duke with Wroten being the best player on the court. The Huskies have lost three in a row but they are in a lot better shape now than when they left for New York City.

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