Sunday, February 26, 2012

Huskies rally from 13 down to defeat Cougs 59-55 for season sweep!

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(20-8,13-3) led by freshman Tony Wroten scoring a game high 21 points rallied from 13 points down to once again shock their cross state rivals Washington State Cougars(14-14,6-10) for the season sweep. The Huskies remain tied for first place in the Pac-12 with this comeback victory over the Cougars which marked the second time this year the Huskies trailed by over 10 points against the Cougars with 10 minutes to go and won. Free throw shooting was the story this game and it was the Huskies who shot well making 15-19 free throws in the second half while the Cougars made only 6-20 at the line in the second half. The Huskies have now won four games in a row and 9 out of 10 games overall. On a night when Terrence Ross fouled out scoring just two points the Huskies found a way to win the game. Trailing 47-34 with a little over 10 minutes left in the game the Huskies appeared headed towards a disappointing loss. Instead the Huskies went on a 13-0 run to tie the game and saw their junior point guard Abdul Gaddy take over down the stretch scoring six straight points for the Huskies. This was a total team effort for the Huskies as they won their 20th game for the fourth straight season for the first time in program history. In the previous five seasons Lorenzo Romar has won 20 games or more his team has made the NCAA tournament.

The game started off well for the Huskies as they sprinted out to a quick 6-0 lead over the Cougars who were playing in front of their home crowd for the last time this season. After that the Cougars responded with a 14-0 run to go up 14-6 over the Huskies as the Cougars started to smell the upset. The Huskies would respond with an 8-0 run of their own as Wroten ended the run with a layup then C.J. Wilcox hit back to back three pointers to tie it up at 14. Wilcox would hit two more three pointers to give the Huskies a 20-18 lead. Trailing 28-26 before halftime Wroten tied it up with 10 seconds to go in the half with a layup.

The numbers weren't pretty for either team. For the Cougars they shot just 8-30(26.7%) from the field, 1-11(9.1%) from three point range but made 11-12(91.7%) from free throws and out rebounded the Huskies 26-16 including 10 offensive rebounds. They were led by Brock Motum who scored 10 points but made just 4-11 shots while grabbing four rebounds. Marcus Capers scored six points on two for three shooting with four rebounds and three assists. Abe Lodwick scored two points with five rebounds.

For the Huskies they shot miserable as well making 11-30(36.7%) of their field goals, 4-12(33.3%) on three pointers and just two for five(40.0%) on free throws. They were led by C.J. Wilcox off the bench with 12 points making all four of his three point attempts. Tony Wroten scored 10 points on 4-11 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. Aziz N'Diaye scored four points on two for three shooting with three rebounds but also had three fouls. Terrence Ross was held scoreless missing all three field goals as he had three fouls as well. In the second half Ross would immediately pick up his fourth foul and the Huskies were in trouble early.

In the second half after Ross immediately had to sit with his fourth foul it appeared the game was getting away from the Huskies as the Cougars went on a 12-0 run to lead 45-32 which included a Huskies technical foul. Leading 47-34 with about 10 minutes left the Huskies appeared dead. That is when the comeback started to take place as Wroten kept driving to the hole. Gaddy threw a beautiful alley-oop to Ross to pull within 47-40. Wroten would have a three point play and then N'Diaye would as well. Darnell Gant would sink a free throw which tied the score at 47 as the Huskies went on a 13-0 run to tie it up. Trailing 52-50 Gaddy had a layup to tie up the score. Gaddy then drove to the hole drawing a foul sinking both free throws giving the Huskies a 54-52 lead with 3:43 left. After the Cougars had tied it up Gaddy again would have the goahead layup to give the Huskies a 56-54 lead with 2:13 left in the game. After Reggie Moore made one of two free throws then Tony Wroten made one of two free throws the Cougars had the ball trailing 57-55 with 24 seconds left. Ken Bone designed the play for Patrick Simon to shoot the goahead three pointer. Simon who hadn't played all game long and has made just one field goal in the calender year of 2012. Simon would air ball the corner three pointer which was wide open. Wilcox would sink both free throws to give the Huskies a 59-55 lead with 10 seconds left. Simon would then miss another three pointer as time had expired. The Huskies had stormed back to defeat the Cougars once again. Dating back to last year this is the third straight win for the Huskies against the Cougars and all three games the Cougars had double digit leads.

For the Cougars this loss has to sting as this was their national championship game. Sitting at 14-14 now and 6-10 in conference play with two games left on the road where they are just 1-6 on the road in conference play doesn't look good for the Cougars. The Cougars twice this year had the Huskies right where they wanted them and just couldn't finish the deal. The Cougars for the game shot 18-52(34.6%) from the field, a dreadful 2-18(11.1%) from three point range and a miserable 17-32(53.1%) from free throws including 6-20(30.0%) in the second half. Despite outrebounding the Huskies 38-33 with 12 offensive rebounds the Cougars they couldn't pull this one out. They were led by the conferences leading scorer in conference games Brock Motum who had to work for his 17 points shooting just 7-19 from the field, making one of four from three point range and two for four at the free throw line. Motum did grab eight rebounds and had three block shots. Marcus Capers had a terrific game for the Cougars scoring 14 points on six for seven shooting but was two for five on free throws. Capers did  have six rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block shot. Abe Lodwick scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds before fouling out. Reggie Moore struggled scoring just four points missing all six field goals. He was also just four for eight on free throws with six assists but four turnovers. The Cougars after defeating the Huskies seven straight from 2006-08 have now lost seven out of nine since then. This will also be the fourth straight season barring a Pac-12 tournament championship win where the Cougars will be left out of the NCAA tournament.

For the Huskies this was a real gut check win on the road in a hostile environment. They had shot poorly, saw their best player foul out scoring only two points while their best big man fouled out as well as he also fought foul trouble in the first half. The Huskies won this game because they simply have too many weapons when you shut down one weapon another emerges. The Huskies won despite shooting 19-53(35.8%) from the field, 4-17(23.5%) on three point range but did make 17-24(70.8%) from the free throw line. They were led by Tony Wroten who scored 21 points on 6-18 shooting but made 9-12 from the free throw line. Wroten also added six rebounds, five assists and two steals. C.J. Wilcox scored 16 points off the bench on five for nine shooting including four for seven on three pointers while sinking both free throws. Wilcox also added five rebounds and a steal. Abdul Gaddy scored 10 points on three for nine shooting missing all four three point shots but was four for five at the free throw line. Gaddy had four assists and two steals as well. Aziz N'Diaye scored seven points on three for six shooting making his only free throw attempts while grabbing seven rebounds with a block shot before fouling out. Darnell Gant started for the second straight game scoring three points on one for three shooting and made just one for four on free throws but did have seven rebounds while playing good defense on Motum holding him to 7-19 shooting. Terrence Ross struggled having his worst game of the season scoring just two points on one for five shooting missing all three of his three point attempts before fouling out in just 21 minutes. For the Huskies this was a big win on the road as their hopes of winning a Pac-12 regular season championship remain alive and well.

For the second time this year the Huskies survived the Cougars as they stormed back from a double digit lead. The Huskies will now head down to L.A. hoping to take care of business with the sweep which would clinch at the worst a Co- Pac-12 championship in the regular season. The Cougars once again prove to be a hard matchup for the Huskies playing them tough defensively holding them to under 30 points in the first half once again. The Huskies are simply more battle tested than the Cougars as this year they win the close games. The Huskies are now 12-4 in games decided by 10 points or less and 5-3 in games decided by five points or less. Despite being such a young team the Huskies win the close games and after starting off 0-5 away from home the Huskies have since won five of six games on the road. This was a huge win for the Huskies who have came around as a team this season which has been fun to witness.


- Shooting slump? What shooting slump? C.J. Wilcox who had been in a shooting slump before the Arizona State game has now had three straight solid games. Wilcox carried the Huskies in the first half drilling all four three point field goal attempts. In fact Wilcox was the only Husky to hit a three pointer as the Huskies were 0-10 outside of Wilcox from three point range. Wilcox who missed the first meeting was pivotal in this game in scoring 16 points with four three pointers.

Wilcox is averaging 13.8 PPG on the year shooting 42.4% from the field and 41.3% on three pointers making 2.3 a game. After making just one three pointer in his first four games back from injury he has now made at least two three pointers in five straight games. During that five game stretch(Huskies 4-1) Wilcox has hit 12-30(40.0%) from three point range which is an average of 2.4 a game while scoring 13.6 points per game so Wilcox is basically back to playing like he has before his injury. With a healthy Wilcox that gives the Huskies three scorers who are capable of carrying them at long stretches throughout the game which most teams in the conference simply don't have. The Huskies survived Wilcox's injury going 2-1 but that one loss was a 69-66 loss at home to California Golden Bears who own tiebreaker due to that. The good news is if they meet again Wilcox is back and healthy.

- Every Romar team who has made the NCAA tournament has had a slumping player emerge down the stretch which leads into a big season the following year. This year that appears to be Aziz N'Diaye and Abdul Gaddy who are both juniors. Gaddy who is a five-star recruit has been a bust to date but lately has been playing solid. He still isn't shooting very well but he is being more agressive attacking the hole. In the last two games he has attempted 11 free throws while going four straight games prior to that with zero free throw attempts. Today's game Gaddy scored six straight points for the Huskies down the stretch including the go ahead field goal to give the Huskies the lead for good.

In his last four games since the disaster in Eugene Gaddy is averaging 7.5 ppg and 5.5 APG to just 1.8 TO's which for a five star recruit isn't very good. Considering where Gaddy was at the start of the year if he continues to put up those numbers while shooting slightly better the Huskies will continue to win games. It has been nice to see Gaddy being more agressive and driving to the hole. Like Wroten he shouldn't ever shoot a three pointer as he is shooting just 29.9% on three pointers for the year. He has made just 3-17(17.6%) in his last nine games on three pointers but has made 9-11(81.8%) on free throws last two games. Gaddy needs to continue to drive to the hole for the Huskies to be successful.

- I feel like Reggie Moore and Abdul Gaddy are always going to be linked together. Had Gaddy stayed true to his committment to Arizona there is a good chance Moore is playing for the Huskies. At first Moore appeared to be the much better player after they were freshman. Now Moore appears to be sort of an egnigma for the Cougars as this year was supposed to be "his team" instead his lack of leadership has shown. Moore against the Huskies didn't make a shot in six field goal attempts while missing four of eight free throws including two straight technical fouls as the Cougars had all the momentum. Shortly after the Huskies went on a 13-0 run to tie it. Moore for the year is averaging only 9.4 PPG, 5.6 APG and 2.5 to's. He is shooting 37.6% from the field for the year as well. In seven games against the Huskies now Moore is averaging 9.6 PPG but averaging only 5.5 this year. In his career against the Huskies so far he has shot miserably making only 14-49(28.6%) from the field. Moore appears to have regressed with the Cougars and is a lightning rod for his fan base on why the Cougars continue to blow games down the stretch. Moore after a promising start to his career just like that is ending his junior season with only one year left. Moore is in danger of being like so many other players in college which was a guy who peaked as a freshman and could never quite reach that level again. Moore struggled today and Gaddy got the better of him today which if you had told me that a month ago I wouldn't have beleived you.

- A picture says a thousand words and this is Brock Motum after the Cougars once again choked to the Huskies. The Cougars are now 6-10 in games decided by 10 points or less and 3-6 in games decided by five points or less. The Cougars who are 14-14 overall but 3-10 away from home have been competitive this year just can't close games. Today was a prime example of that as they had the Huskies on the ropes. Terrence Ross was taken out of the game due to foul trouble and the Cougars were leading 47-34. The Cougars were also controlling the glass as well which was a shocker considering the last meeting. The Cougars lost due to unforced errors mainly 6-20(30.0%) at the free throw line in the second half. That is the defination of "Coug'd it" which is exactly what they did. On senior night where they had been 11-3 at home and having their rivals on the ropes this had to be a crushing defeat for the Cougars. When you lose by just four points and miss 14 freebies in the second half those are the type of losses that can destroy a team. With USC having six scholarship guys but the Cougars struggles on the road I expect them to split and go 15-15 heading into the conference tournament. The Cougars lost Klay Thompson  to the draft which hurt as they don't have a finisher on their team. Gant took away Motum leaving the Cougars with no other go to guy down the stretch. This was probably one of the more crushing defeats the Cougars basketball program has experienced in quite some years.

- In big time atmospheres Tony Wroten always seems to thrive on the pressure. Today was no different as the Huskies trailed by 13 points and Ross was out due to foul trouble. The freshman guard took it upon himself to take over the game which he did scoring 21 points, grabbing six rebounds, dishing out five assists and made 9-12 at the free throw line including seven for nine in the second half. Wroten proving why the Huskies are so dangerous because if you stop Ross you still have to worry about Wroten who is a future NBA player as well. Wroten with his size and quickness is a matchup nightmare for any team. Wroten made plays when the Huskies needed him to especially when the game appeared to have been slipping away. Wroten's play is reminding Huskies of the main he essentially replaced this season.

- There was a special guest at this game for the Huskies which was former Husky great Isaiah Thomas who is enjoying a fine season with the Sacramento Kings. Thomas this year is averaging 8.8 PPG and 2.9 APG in only 19 minutes. Since being named starter the last four games Thomas has averaged 19.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 6.5 APG while knocking down 2.3 three pointers a game.

For Lorenzo Romar his players always come back to the program as his program is just one big family. Thomas left early but as you can see there are no hard feelings here. Romar becomes the first Huskies coach in program history to win 20+ games four years in a row. The Huskies also have won 96 games which is tied for the most wins in a four year stretch from 1950-1953. Romar is looking to make the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in nine seasons. He also improves to 12-10(6-4 at home, 5-5 on the road and 1-1 in Pac-10 tournament) all-time against the Cougars having won seven out of the last nine after the Cougars had won seven in a row. Romar has done his best coaching job since the 2008-09 team who I felt overachieved. This team has the talent but they are so young and immature at times. I feel like Romar is headed towards his third conference coach of the year award title which he deserves.

The Huskies are inching closer and closer to the NCAA tournament. Unless the Huskies lay an egg against the outmanned USC Trojans I don't see how the Huskies miss the NCAA tournament. The Huskies are playing well and winning in ways nobody thought was possible. The three point shot isn't falling at all for the Huskies this year and especially lately. The Huskies instead are winning with defense and improvement from the free throw line. Every player in the rotation appears to have improved as the season has wore on. In the past in a hostile environment on the road the Huskies would have folded the tent down 47-34 but not these Huskies. These Huskies overcome big deficits against the Cougars and UCLA to win. These Huskies win in hostile environments in Pullman and more importantly Tucson, Arizona against the Wildcats. These Huskies have so many weapons where if one has an off game(Ross) others(Wroten and Wilcox) can pick up the slack. This is a team that nobody will want to face come NCAA tournament time. The Huskies are going to be a dangerous matchup for a high seed much like last year when they gave the 2nd seeded North Carolina Tar Heels a huge run for their morning in basically a road game. These Huskies are more talented than last year and now they are playing good fundamental basketball. Romar deserves all the credit for this teams turnaround and the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year is starting to become a reality.

1 comment:

  1. It's time for the Huskies to work well on their game. This is the time that they must have the Championship trophy.

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