Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Huskies end their road woes with 57-53 win over the Utes

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(9-6,3-1) finally ended their road woes with a low scoring sluggish 57-53 victory on the road at the Utah Utes(4-11,1-2). This wasn't a normal victory for the Huskies as this game was pretty ugly as the Huskies failed to score 30 points in either half. Instead led by the defensive effort of redshirt freshman Desmond Simmons off the bench and finally the emergence of Terrence Ross the Huskies pulled this victory out. Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar also had a new starting lineup as well after the lackluster performance against the Colorado Buffaloes putting in C.J. Wilcox for lone senior Darnell Gant. Wilcox playing his first game in his home state struggled but the Huskies won anyways as a win is a win.

For the Huskies this win was huge to get that road monkey off their back as they play their next four games at home including three in conference. Despite having just one player(Ross) score in double figures the Huskies found a way to win. Now this win was against a team who is only 4-11 but did just defeat the Washington State Cougars. The Huskies needed a road win for their mental approach going forward in Pac-12 play seeing how they end their conference season with three straight road games.

In the first half both teams struggled as the Huskies led 29-27 at halftime. The Huskies shot poorly making only 10-31(32.3%) of their field goals and only 3-10(30.0%) from three pointers. Wilcox in his homecoming got the start and struggled making only one of nine shots while Ross shot one for five and Wroten was one for four. The leading scorers for the Huskies were Aziz N'Diaye and Darnell Gant who scored five points. Only Desmond Simmons and Gant made two field goals in the first half. The Huskies did lead at halftime and in the second half Ross would start to take the game over.

The Huskies would outscore the Utes 28-26 in the second half to hang onto a 57-53 lead. After leading at one point 50-43 the lead was cut to 52-47 and as the shot clock was winding down it was kicked out to Ross who had a falling away three pointer to put what many thought was the dagger on the Utes giving the Huskies a 55-47 lead. The Huskies though would miss six straight free throws and after a three pointer by the Utes cut the lead to 55-53 it was once again down to Ross who was fouled. Ross hit both free throws to clinch the win for the Huskies.

 Ross led the Huskies with 14 points on four for nine shooting including three for five from three pointers but just three for six on free throws. Ross also have five rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks. The next leading scorer for the Huskies was Aziz N'Diaye who scored nine points on three for five shooting and made three of four free throws. N'Diaye also grabbed six rebounds. Tonly Wroten scored just eight points and failed to dish out an assist as he shot three for six from the field. Abdul Gaddy scored seven points on three for six shooting including a three pointer while dishing out six assists. Desmond Simmons scored six points on three for six shooting but pulled down a game high 10 rebounds off the bench. C.J. Wilcox struggled in his return home scoring just five points on 2-13 shooting including one for five from three point range. Darnell Gant who came off the bench first time all season scored five points on two for three shooting including a three pointer. This was a big win for the Huskies winning on the road like they did.

All in all, the Huskies despite their struggles find themselves 3-1 in conference play and tied for second place. I'm sure Romar would love to be 4-0 and seeing his team playing better but he would accept this. The Huskies with four straight home games and three of which are conference opponents have a chance to make a run. This year with the conference being down winning the conference regular season title is as important as ever. The Huskies have a chance to clean up their flaws they can still make this a special season afterall. Hopefully like in the past this team will improve as the season grows older.


- You often hear me say this team has too much talent to be playing the way they are playing. Well I'm referring to Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten two guys who I feel will have long NBA careers and be NBA lottery selections someday(hopefully next year). I've talked plenty about Wroten and he didn't play a good game at all today. Instead I'll focus on Terrence Ross who was big time for the Huskies. After starting off one for five shooting in the second half he was three for four shooting making some incredible three pointers.

Down the stretch he made a back breaking three pointer then swished two free throws even though at the time he was only one for four at the line. Ross is the only guy on the team who can be unguardable at time. He can shoot well, he can use his athletic ability to drive to the hole and he has proven he can make impossible shots. Ross for the season is averaging 14.3 points and 6.1 rebounds. He is shooting 45.3% from the field and making 1.7 three pointers a game. Those are solid numbers in fact those numbers could land Ross on the first team all pac-12 team. Yet with Ross you always feel like you want more. Ross is too talented to only average 14 points in this offense and too athletic to only average six rebounds. Ross should be averaging anywhere from 18-22 points and 8-10 rebounds a game. Ross and Wroten will determine where the Huskies season goes from here as they are the two most talented guys on the team if not the conference.

-  Romar got the split that was needed after the embarassing loss to the Buffaloes on Thursday. For his career Romar is now 137-27 at home which shows the Huskies are world beaters at home. However, they are only 42-60 on the road and 26-20 on neutral court. So the Huskies are 68-80 away from home in the Romar years which shouldn't surprise anyone who follows this program closely.

Despite barely beating a bad team this was a big win because of those numbers I just gave. So in a typical 18 game Pac-12 schedule those numbers suggest Romar would go 8-1 at home while going 4-5 away which puts the Huskies at 12-6 for conference record which sounds about right. Romar has a young team and is finally starting to trust his youngsters. He already inserted Wroten into the starting lineup and has recently been playing freshman Simmons more minutes than his only senior on scholarship in Darnell Gant. This has been a trying season to date for Romar but his teams do get better as the season progresses.

In conclusion, the saying in the Pac-10 and now Pac-12 is win your home games and split your road games which would give you a 14-4 record(like the 2005 team did). That is exactly what the Huskies have done so far after sweeping the Beavers they split on the rocky mountain road trip. Now they return home hoping to go 6-1 in conference play and win four games in a row overall. They will take on Seattle U who they have dominated since renewing that "rivalry". After the South Dakota State disaster the Huskies can't afford to take anyone lightly especially their cross city rival. This was a good win for the Huskies to finally gain some confidence that they can win on the road should be interesting what they do with that confidence. Two years ago the Huskies started off losing their first seven games away from home then won nine straight games away from home after that. All it takes is one win sometimes to start a streak. Hopefully for the Huskies sake this Utah win was just that for them.

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