Friday, February 3, 2012
Ross explodes in second half comeback as Huskies win 8th straight at home vs Bruins 71-69!
The Washington Huskies(15-7, 8-2) found themselves trailing at home by 10 points to the UCLA Bruins(12-10, 5-5) who were looking to win for the first time in Seattle since 2004. That is when Terrence Ross carried the Huskies down the stretch as the Huskies outscored the Bruins 16-4 to end the game. Ross scoring 10 of those points to score a team high 22 points for the Huskies to extend their streak over the Bruins. More importantly for Lorenzo Romar's team is the fact his Huskies are in first place after winning back to back games on ESPN at the buzzer. Both times his team came up with a huge defensive stop to prevent overtime as the Huskies have now won four games in a row and seven of their last eight games. This game the Huskies overcame the injury to Tony Wroten and foul trouble to Aziz N'Diaye. This team is starting to come around and finally play like a team who will be dancing come March.
The Bruins lost the game despite a career game from sophomore Joshua Smith who scored 24 points on 9-13 shooting while making 6-10 free throws with nine rebounds. Lazeric Jones scored 11 points on 3-12 shooting but made 3-5 on three pointers. David Wear finished with 10 points on five for six shooting with four rebounds while his brother Travis scored eight points on just 4-15 shooting with eight rebounds.
For the Huskies they were led by Ross who scored 22 points on 9-12 shooting with two three pointers, four rebounds, a steal and two blocks. Ross scored 18 in the second half on seven for eight shooting. Tony Wroten who played hurt all game scored 13 points on 4-11 shooting but was a perfect five for five on free throws. Wroten also added five rebounds, two assists and a steal but had five turnovers. Darnell Gant off the bench scored 12 points on five for nine shooting with two three pointers with two steals and a block. Aziz N'Diaye who fought foul trouble all game long scored seven points on three for four shooting with 11 rebounds. Abdul Gaddy scored seven points on two for five shooting while making three of four free throws. He also had five assists but had four turnovers as well. C.J. Wilcox scored six points on one for four shooting but was perfect on four free throw attempts. Shawn Kemp Jr. off the bench scored four points on two for three shooting in 11 minutes. The Huskies as a team shot 26-50(52.0%) from the field, 4-10(40.0%) on three pointers but made 15-20(75.0%) on free throws which proved to be the difference.
This was a big win for the Huskies as they continued their dominance over the Bruins .The Huskies have now won eight straight at home against the Bruins(three final four teams in that stretch) and four games overall in a row against the Bruins. Since 1997 the Huskies are 13-3 at home against the Bruins as well as Seattle is becoming a giant thorn to the Bruins. This is two years in a row where the Bruins had the Huskies beat until someone caught on fire for the Huskies in the second half. Last year that was Wilcox this year it was Ross who had done the same thing against the Washington State Cougars. This team is now winning these close games and winning it with defense as their defense prevailed at the buzzer against the two best programs in the conferece on ESPN both games. This was a huge win for Romar's team who now sits in first place all by themselves.
This year N'Diaye is averaging 8.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 1.3 blocks per game with 0.5 steals per game. N'Diaye is also shooting 53.8% from the floor as well. His free throw shooting has been horrid lately making only 3-22 from the foul line. N'Diaye who isn't a good free throw shooter is better than that. The Huskies need him to at least be halfway decent so they can throw him the ball more. This year with those 11 rebounds that is the sixth time this year N'Diaye has grabbed double digit rebounds. So far in Pac-12 play N'Diaye is averaging 8.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 0.7 blocks per game. With N'Diaye in the middle the Huskies have a guy who can change the game defensively in the paint which they've never had in the Romar era.
For the season now Gant is averaging career highs in points and rebounds. He is averaging 7.7 PPG and 4.7 RPG. He is shooting 48.8% from the field and 35.6% on three pointers making 0.7 per game. In Pac-12 play Gant is averaging 6.6 PPG and 3.9 RPG which he needs to step it up. Gant is the lone senior and the only guy who is battle tested on this roster. The Huskies will need more from him going forward if they wish to make him the first ever player to have played in four NCAA tournaments with the Huskies.
For the season now Ross is averaging 15.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.1 steals per game and 1.1 blocks per game. He is shooting 45.8% from the field, 39.4% on three pointers making 2.0 three pointers a game and 72.1% on free throws. Ross is having a first team all conference type of season but he is capable of being first team All-American if he just would play like he does in the second half for an entire game. In Pac-12 play Ross is averaging 16.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks. He is also making 2.2 three pointers a game. Like Wroten in conference play he has stepped up his game. With Ross, Wroten and Wilcox the Huskies have three guys who are capable of going off on you at any moment.
For the Huskies who now sit atop the conference at 8-2 with all the hostile road trips out of the way the Huskies team who is on a run can continue this run. This season reminds me a mixture of the 2003-04 season and 2009-2010 season where it took a while for this team to get going but once it did they didn't look back at all. Romar has a very talented squad and he has them playing at the level that his tournament teams always tend to play. For Romar to be at Washington for 10 years and to have a winning record against both Arizona and UCLA is incredible and unthinkable before his arrival to Montlake.
The Huskies season has turned around as Romar is finally allowing his stars to take over games. This game was a great example of that as Ross was the only guy to shoot final three minutes minutes Gant's breakaway dunk. The Huskies basketball program has accomplished a lot but they have never reached the NCAA tournament four years in a row. With wins over Arizona and UCLA this team is inching closer towards that goal. For these young Huskies to overcome blowing a huge lead against Arizona to win and now make a huge comeback to defeat the Bruins is a confidence builder for sure. For Ross who saved the day hopefully he can finally play a complete game so this team can become unbeatable especially in this conference. For the Huskies this is now four wins in a row and four wins in a row against mighty UCLA as well.