Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wroten leads Huskies to road win over Sun Devils 60-54

By Kshell

Tony Wroten led the Washington Huskies(13-7,6-2) into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 win a road win over the struggling Arizona State Sun Devils(6-14,2-6) 60-54 down in Tempe, Arizona. After scoring a season low 22 points in the first half the Huskies overcame that with a strong second half that saw them go on a 13-1 run to begin the half. Wroten also excited everyone with the #1 play on Sportscenters top 10 plays with a dunk after the Sun Devils pulled within four points. Lorenzo Romar also saw his roster gain some depth as C.J. Wilcox returned from injury and football sensation Austin Seferian-Jenkins continued to give the Huskies good minutes. Despite making only one three pointer the entire game the Huskies once again won with defense and hustle which has always been a trademark for Romar teams who have made the NCAA tournament. The Huskies may have defeated a bad team but road wins especially for this young group is hard to come by. Just like that the Huskies have now won two road games in a row and despite everything that went wrong in the non-conference season they have positioned themselves in the first half of the season to be able to contend for a Pac-12 championship which is always the goal.

The first half was played at an ugly pace as both teams failed to shoot above 35.0% which played right into the Sun Devils hands as they tried to pull the upset. The Sun Devils led at halftime 24-22 as they scored a layup at the buzzer to take the lead. The Sun Devils shot 10-29(34.5%) from the field but were helped out by  making four for nine(44.4%) from three point range. They were led by Jonathan Gilling who scored eight points on three for seven shooting including two three pointers. Sophomore big man Jordan Bachynski provided a lift off bench for the Sun Devils scoring four points on two for six shooting while pullng down seven rebounds as the Sun Devils led in the first half.

For the Huskies they also shot 10-29(34.5%) from the field but failed to make a single three pointer in five attempts. They were also just two for six(33.3%) from the free throw line. The Huskies were led by Tony Wroten who scored nine points on four for five shooting while making one of two free throws. Wroten also had four rebounds in the process. Terrence Ross scored eight points on only 4-12 shooting and missed all three three point attemps. Abdul Gaddy also struggled scoring just one point while missing all five field goals including two three point attempts. Gaddy did add four assists as the Huskies offense was terrible in the first half.

In the second half you saw a much different Huskies team as Wroten took over the second half. The Huskies began the second half on a 13-1 run to extend their lead to 35-25. The Sun Devils then went on a 6-0 run to pull within 43-39 that is when Ton Wroten made sportscenter top play on the top 10 plays. Wroten took the ball dribbled left down the lane then throw down a one handed jam on Jonathan Gilling for the sensational dunk. To cap off the dunk Gilling was called for a blocking foul as Wroten sank the free throw giving the Huskies a 46-39 lead. With 1:39 left in the game the Sun Devils again pulled the game within four as the Huskies led 50-46. Once again Wroten bailed out the Huskies with another three point play giving them a 53-46 advantage. From there on out it was a free throw war as the Huskies held on for the important win. Despite shooting so poorly the Huskies found a way to win over the Sun Devils led by Tony Wroten. Wroten scored 22 points on 9-12 shooting with six rebounds and three assists. Ross scored 12 points on 4-13 shooting with seven rebounds. Darnell Gant scored eights points and grabbed five rebounds off the bench. Austin Seferian-Jenkins also scored four points off the bench while grabbing five rebounds. Aziz N'Diaye scored five points with eight rebounds and a block shot. C.J. Wilcox returned from injury to score four points sinking all four free throws in the final minute as he played just 10 minutes. Abdul Gaddy scored just five points with five assists as the Huskies are now tied for first place.

For a young team like these Huskies are this was a huge road win. They are now tied for first place in the conference despite their struggles a month ago. This team is starting to have an identity and is gaining some depth with Seferian-Jenkins joining the team. Now if the Huskies can pull off the shocker and defeat Arizona in Arizona(something they haven't done since Brandon Roy was a senior) they could be in the drivers seat for the conference crown. This has been an up and down season for this group. Hopefully winning five of their last six games is the turnaround this team needed moving forward.


- Earlier in the year I had complained about the Huskies lack of depth on the team. Well that isn't the case anymore with freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins joining the team. C.J. Wilcox also returned from injury but played just 10 minutes. When he is healthy the Huskies will have eight quality players vs just six against California. Against Arizona State Seferian-Jenkins fouled out again like he did last game in 16 minutes. He also provided tough defense as you can see in this picture while scoring four points and grabbing five rebounds. In 32 minutes this year he has grabbed 12 rebounds which is 15 rebounds per 40 minutes.

When a player joins the team though that means someone's minutes are cut down. I figured Romar would take some from Gant, N'Diaye and Simmons. Instead Desmond Simmons appears to be the odd man out. Against Stanford Simmons scored six points but had just one rebound. Against Arizona State Simmons played just 10 minutes, scoring zero points and grabbing only two rebounds. Still with Seferian-Jenkins on the team that is huge as he is a quality big man unlike Bruenig or Kemp Jr who were just useless out there. With Seferian-Jenkins joining the team the Huskies now have a toughness to them that was left when Tyrese Breshers was forced to retire.

- Tony Wroten was big time once again as he appears to be running away with the freshman of the year award in the Pac-12. Wroten is going for a much bigger award which is Pac-12 player of the year. Twice when the Sun Devils had cut the game down to four points Wroten had a three point play to kill their momentum. Wroten also attacked that zone scoring 22 points on 9-12(75.0%) shooting which were all in the paint as he didn't attempt a single jumper. The previous game against Stanford Wroten scored 21 points on 9-14(64.3%) as he once again was attacking the rim. With Wilcox hurt teams are playing in a zone which at first frustrated Wroten as he was jacking up three pointers and that isn't his game. Now he is attacking the zone showing that he is most talented player in the conference already.

For the year Wroten is averaging 17.1 points per game, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He is shooting 49.6% from the field and he leads the entire Pac-12 in 7.6 free throw attempts per game(only making 54.6% of them). He is averaging a full two steals per game as well. Wroten has been as good as advertised for the Huskies.

-  Lorenzo Romar after winning his 300th game as a college coach started his quest to win  400 games. I liked how he used Wilcox in this game to get the rust off and it was nice having a good free throw shooter down the stretch. When Wilcox is fully healthy hopefully Romar inserts him into the starting lineup and finally benches Abdul Gaddy who has been holding this team back all season long. With Wroten, Wilcox, Ross, Simmons and N'Diaye everyone is playing their natural positions plus those are your five best players. With Gaddy, Gant and Seferian-Jenkins off the bench that is also a good bench to call on. This conference is wide open and typical Romar teams hit their stride during conference play like clockwork. This team is talented but as we've seen at times is immature so Romar has to do more leading than a head coach normally would have to do. Romar also improves to 17-5 all-time against the Sun Devils while being the Huskies head coach as he has just dominated the Sun Devils. Including going 8-2 down in Tempe which most of those wins were just like this one pretty ugly but Romar always finds a way to beat the Sun Devils.

Just like this Huskies team has found ways to win three of their last four games despite not shooting well at all in the first half of any of those games. They also won their of their last four conference games with Wilcox playing a combined 10 minutes and failing to make a single field goal. Ross carried them against the Cougars and Wroten has carried them the last two games. This team is starting to play defense which has to make Romar happy as his teams always play defense at least his NCAA tournament calibar teams do. The team that lost to South Dakota State at home in dominating fasion is now tied for first place in the Pac-12 with 10 more games to be played. This team has come a long ways in a month and can go even further in the next two months which is ultimately the goal.

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