Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ross has career high 30 points to lead Huskies over Cougars 75-65

By Kshell

It was a tale of two halves for the Washington Huskies(11-6,4-1) who defeated cross state rival Washington State Cougars(9-8,1-4) 75-65 in front of the home crowd to improve to 10-1 on the season at home. The Huskies were led by a career high 30 points by Terrence Ross who caught fire in the second half scoring 26 points which was more than the entire team scored in the first half. The overcame a 10 point deficit with 10 minutes left in the game due to their 44-20 rebounding edge which includes 21-3 on the offensive glass. The Huskies game and perhaps season was on the line when head coach Lorenzo Romar got a technical to spark his team for the comeback. This was a tale of two different halves for Terrence Ross and the Huskies team in general.

The first half the Cougars dominated from the opening tip. The Cougars took an early 9-2 lead and never looked back due to the shooting of Brock Motum. The Cougars did let the Huskies hang around as they only led 31-25 at halftime. The Cougars shot 12-26(46.2%) from the field, 5-14(35.7%) from three point range and two for five(40.0%) from free throws. Brock Motum led the Cougars with 13 points on five for five shooting including hitting both three pointers. Freshman Devonte Lacy had six points on two for seven shooting with two three pointers. For the Huskies they struggled shooting just 9-33(27.3%) from the field, making 3-13(23.1%) from three pointers and 4-10(40.0%) from the free throw line. They were led by Tony Wroten who scored seven points on only two for eight shooting and just three for six at the free throw line. Abdul Gaddy had five points on two for five shooting with a three pointer. Terrence Ross struggled big time in the first half scoring just four points on 1-10 shooting including one for five from three pointers. He also made just one for four from the free throw line but did  pull down seven rebounds. Aziz N'Diaye had four points on two for three shooting with three rebounds while Darnell Gant provided the only bench points with three points on one for two shooting with a three pointer and five rebounds. The second half especially for Ross was a different half.

In the second half the Cougars extended their lead to 45-37 when a call that went against the Huskies got Lorenzo Romar to receive his first technical of the season. After the Cougars made both technical free throws to lead 47-37 over the Huskies that is when the Huskies would go on a run. The Huskies immediatly went on a 15-2 run to lead 52-49 over the Cougars led by Ross(scored 26 in the second half) and Gant(scored 10 in the second half) while dominating the glass. The Huskies run would eventually extend to 34-11 giving them a 71-58 lead before winning 75-65. The Huskies shot much better as a team shooting 15-30 in the second half including 7-13 on three pointers. They were led by Ross who in the second half scored 26 points on 8-11 shooting while making five of seven three pointers and made all five free throws. Darnell Gant also scored 10 points in the second half shooting four for five including two three pointers. It was a great win for the Huskies to improve to 4-1 in conference play while this was a devastating loss for the Cougars who dropped 1-4 in conference play. The Cougars who had won seven in a row against the Huskies from 2006-2008 have now lost six of their last eight games in this rivalry to the Huskies.

The Cougars for the game shot 23-51(45.1%) from the field, 7-24(29.2%) from three point range and 12-16(75.0%) on free throws. They were led by Faisel Aden who scored 18 points off the bench shooting 6-13 from the field with seven rebounds. Motum scored 17 points on 7-11 shooting including two three pointers. Devonte Lacy scored 10 points on 3-9 shooting including three for eight on three pointers. Reggie Moore scored just seven points on two for seven shooting including a three pointer but did dish out eight assists. The Cougars played the same in both halves just couldn't overcome the Huskies getting redhot after that technical foul.

It was a tale of two halves for the Huskies who scored only 25 points in the first half then scored 50 in the second half. The Huskies had more offensive rebounds(21) than the Cougars had rebounds(20). The glass was dominated by the Huskies 44-20 over the Cougars which was the story of this game. The Huskies shot poorly from the field 24-63(38.1%) from the field, 10-26(38.5%) from three point range and 17-28(60.7%) from the free throw line. The Huskies caught hot in the second half and dominated the glass is how they won. They were led by Pac-12 player of the week Terrence Ross who scored 30 points on 9-21 shooting including 6-12 from three point range and was six of nine at the free throw line. Ross also grabbed a career high 14 rebounds including five offensive. The next leading scorer was Darnell Gant off the bench scoring 13 points on five for seven shooting including three for five on three point range while grabbing eight rebounds with five being offensive. Tony Wroten struggled scoring only 13 points on 3-14 shooting including 7-13 from the free throw line. Wroten had four assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block. Aziz N'Diaye had another strong game scoring 12 points on four for five shooting including making all four of his free throws. N'Diaye added eight rebounds and a block shot as well. Abdul Gaddy shot terribly from the field scoring only five points on 2-10 shooting with a three pointer but did have four rebounds and six assists. Desmond Simmons scored just two points on one for six shooting but did pull down seven rebounds including four offensive. The Huskies won this game by Ross getting hot and controlling the glass.

All in all, without C.J.Wilcox for a while the Huskies basically only have six scholarship guys who are contributing on their roster. This is the thinnest roster Romar has ever had and is lacking in maturity as his three best players are underclassman. Which is why Romar had to resort to getting a technical to wake up his team who was sleep walking in the first half. That technical appeared to have work but Romar can't be doing that every game. The key to this game was hopefully this is just the start of a breakout season for Ross who up to this point was having a solid season even if he is capable of so much more. The big man play dominated this game which was supposed to be a weakness heading into the year has slowly turned into a strength in conference only having one bad game(Colorado). With Wilcox hurt all six of those guys must step up their game as the rest of the team has shown they aren't ready yet at least this year anyways. This was a good win for the Huskies as it is always nice to defeat your rivals.


- Terrence Ross will grab the headlines for this game and trust me I'll talk about him later. Another big factor in the Huskies win today was the play of their big men. Aziz N'Diaye scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Darnell Gant added 13 points with eight rebounds and Desmond Simmons added only two points but seven rebounds too. Combined the Huskies big man trio played 78 minutes scoring 27 points with 23 rebounds. The Huskies big men controlled the glass and also provided some scoring in the paint.

For the year now N'Diaye is actually having a pretty solid season now. In 23.5 minutes per game he is averaging 8.2 PPG and 7.9 RPG with 1.5 blocks per game. He is shooting 53.1% from the field as well. This past week both Husky wins N'Diaye averaged 13.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG with a block shot a game. He also shot 9-13(69.2%) from the field and 8-13(61.5%) from the free throw line. N'Diaye gives the Huskies a huge advantage as most teams don't have a seven footer and his improvement from last season has really helped the overall big man play for the Huskies this season.

Darnell Gant also had a great game playing a career high 33 minutes as he scored 13 points with eight rebounds. The senior captain has been recently benched but there will be no pouting from Gant who has started off and on his entire career. Gant for the season is averaging 7.6 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game in 22.2 minutes. He is shooting 51.6% from the field and 40.7% from three point range making a little over half a three pointer a game.  Gant needs to continue having games like he did against the Cougars for the rest of the season if this team wants to play in the NCAA tournament.

- Tony Wroten probably had his worst game as a Husky against the Cougars. He struggled against the zone shooting only 3-14 and missing all three of his three point attempts. In fact Wroten should just stop shooting three pointers all together as he as only made 6-30(20.0%) from three point range. In his last seven games he has shot a miserable 1-15(6.6%) from three point range.

Wroten's game is driving to the basket as he has attempted 31 free throws the last two games. Unfortunately he has only made 19 of them which is good for 61.2%. Not all is bad with Wroten in fact he is having a first team all league season averaging 16.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 3.4 APG as well as 1.9 steals per game. Wroten is also only a true freshman who has shown great talent. He just needs to work on his fundamentals like free throws and stop shooting three pointers he should be unstoppable.

- The Huskies finally got that breakthrough game from Terrence Ross they had been looking for all season long. Ross who is projected by some draft sites to be a top 10 pick in this upcoming NBA draft. Ross as you saw in the second half is a good rebounder for his size, greater shooter, and super athletic(alley-oop dunks). Ross after shooting 1-10 in the first half shot 8-12 in the second half including five for seven on three pointers. Ross scored more points(26) in the second half than the Huskies did as a team in the first half(25). Ross finished the game scoring a career high 30 points and grabbing a career high 14 rebounds. Giving the Cougars a taste of their own medicine as Klay Thompson a lottery pick had done to them in all three games last season.

For the year now Ross is averaging 15.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG with 1.0 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He is shooting 45.6% from the field, 41.0% on three pointers making two a game and 72.3% from the free throw line. Lately Ross has been shooting really well from beyond the arc. In his last five games Ross has shot 15-29(51.7%) from three point range. In his last three games he has shot 11-19(57.8%) from three point range. Ross has all the talent in the world and nights like this should be more normal than the exception.

- Romar teams who make the NCAA tournament have always had upperclassman leadership. In the 2003-04 season you had a junior Will Conroy(3rd best player on team), in 2004-05 you had senior Conroy, juniors Brandon Roy and Nate Robinson all three where your best players, in 2005-06 it was Roy and Bobby Jones his two best players who were both seniors. Then next two years there wasn't much upperclassman so the Huskies failed to reach the dance then in 2008-09 season you had seniors Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon your two best players, in 2009-2010 you had senior Quincy Pondexter your best player then in 2010-11 you had seniors Justin Holiday and Matthew Bryan-Amaning along with junior Isaiah Thomas also known as your three best players.

This year the Huskies three best players are sophomores Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox and freshman Tony Wroten. Meaning there is no leadership  on this team. Which is why this team can go toe to toe with Duke and Marquette yet look uninterested at times vs South Dakota State at home. Romar was seeing the same thing in the first 30 minutes so he decided to fire his team up with a technical. The Huskies adjusted to the zone that former assistent Ken Bone had on them by attacking the glass. Without C.J. Wilcox for a while the Huskies will have to learn how to play against the zone as they'll be seeing a ton of it.

In conclusion, I've been highly critical of Romar this season but this game he won for his guys. He saw there was no leadership once again and did something about it by being a leader. Ross then finally realized he is the best player on the court by a mile and took over in the second half. The Huskies are tied for second place at 4-1 in conference play with two more home games left. The start of the schedule was kind to the Huskies who began conference play with five of their first seven at home which for a young immature team such as this group that is needed. This week against the Bay Area teams who the Huskies have historically done well against at home will be a big test for this group especially against a veteran team like California. This was a good win and it's always nice to defeat the Cougars which the Huskies have now done six of the last eight times.

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