Monday, March 19, 2012

Ross scores career high 32 as Huskies destroy Northwestern 76-55 in NIT sweet 16

By Kshell

Terrence Ross put on a performance for the ages scoring a career high 32 points making six three pointers as the Washington Huskies(23-10,14-4) advanced to the elite 8 of the NIT winning over the Northwestern Wildcats(19-14,8-10) 76-55. The Huskies finally played up to their abilities in blowing out the Wildcats. The Huskies offense started off slow in the first half but still led at halftime by seven points. In the second half the offense woke up as Ross and C.J. Wilcox combined to make 10-23 from three point range. The Huskies dominated the rebounding battle this game 42-24 against the undersized Wildcats and both their PG's Tony Wroten and Abdul Gaddy had seven assists in the game. The Pac-12 regular season champions showed why they should be playing in the NCAA tournament as they are a deep team who can beat you in so many different ways. The Huskies feature two high NBA talented players in Ross and Wroten. The Huskies also have good NBA prospects down the road in Aziz N'Diaye and Wilcox. For Lorenzo Romar to have his team still focused on the task that needs to be done speaks a lot about this team. The Huskies now have just one home game left then hopefully they'll make a return trip to New York City.

The game started off slow for the Huskies as they found themselves trailing 17-9 to the Wildcats. That is when the defense picked up as the Huskies started to force turnovers going on a 23-6 run to lead 32-23 eventually leading at halftime 39-32. The Wildcats trailed despite shooting well making 11-19(57.8%) from the field, five for eight(62.5%) on three pointers and five for nine on free throws(55.5%). The Wildcats were led by John Shurna who scored 14 points on four for five shooting including three three pointers also had five rebounds. They were also led by JerShon Cobb who scored six points on two for four shooting. The Wildcats main problem was 11 turnovers in the first half.

For the Huskies they shot poorly making only 13-37(35.1%) from the field, 5-21(23.8%) on three point range and were perfect on eight free throw attempts. The Huskies outrebounded the Wildcats 19-14 including 11-2 in offensive rebounds. They were led by Terrence Ross who scored 15 points on 4-10 shooting including three for seven on three pointers. He was perfect on four free throw attempts grabbing five rebounds. Aziz N'Diaye scored six points on three for six shooting with two rebounds. Tony Wroten had just two points on one for five shooting but provided five rebounds with four assists. C.J. Wilcox scored nine points on three for nine shooting with one three pointer and three rebounds. The Huskies would look to extend that lead in the second half hoping their shots would finally fall.

In the second half the Huskies put the Wildcats away as Ross began the second half hitting three straight three pointers. Then C.J. Wilcox poured in on the action drilling three straight three pointers as well. The Huskies outscored the Wildcats 37-23 in the second half to win 76-55 in one of their most complete efforts of the season. The Wildcats cooled down in the second half making only 7-32(21.8%) from the field giving them 18-51(35.3%) overall. They shot 9-24(37.5%) from three point range and 10-17(58.8%) from free throws. They were led by Shurna who scored 24 points on 6-12 shooting from the field, five for seven on three pointers while making seven of nine from free throws. He also pulled down six rebounds with four steals and a block shot.

For the Huskies they shot 27-63(42.9%) from the field including 14-26(53.8%) from the field in the second half. The Huskies shot the three ball plenty making 11-32(34.4%) from beyond the arc and 11-14(78.6%) from the free throw line. They out rebounded the Wildcats 42-24 including 19-8 in offensive. They were led by Ross who scored 32 points on 10-21 shooting including 6-14 from three pointers while making all six of his free throws. Ross grabbed eight rebounds while having two steals and a block shot. C.J. Wilcox off the bench scored 20 points on 7-13 shooting while making four for nine on three pointers and made both free throws. Wilcox also had six rebounds including four offensive. Aziz N'Diaye scored 11 points on 5-11 shooting with seven rebounds and two steals. Abdul Gaddy scored five points on two for six shooting with a three pointer. He did fill up the stat sheet with four rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a block shot. Tony Wroten only scored two points on one for five shooting but had eight rebounds. He also had seven assists with two blocks. Desmond Simmons scored four points making his only shot with two rebounds. Martin Bruenig brought down the house with two points on an athletic dunk. Darnell Gant was held scoreless missing all five of his shots but had four rebounds including three offensive. This was a big win for the Huskies who played one of their most complete games of the season.

For the first time in school history the Huskies are advancing to the elite 8 in the NIT. The Huskies will have one more home game left in the season and they will host one of their rivals the Oregon Ducks. The Huskies who did win the Pac-12 regular season championship are continuing their good play as of late. The Huskies are proving that the loss to Oregon State in the Pac-12 tournament was just a fluke. The Huskies can't control what the selection committee thought they didn't do all they can control is the games they are playing in the NIT. So far the Huskies are playing good basketball games which hopefully can translate into next season for the NCAA tournament.


- Wilcox had his stroke going once again drilling four three pointers as he scored 20 points while grabbing six rebounds. Wilcox was in line for a big year before the injury set in. After that injury he struggled coming back but has been in a groove now for over a month. In the past four games Wilcox is averaging 18.3 PPG with 4.8 RPG. He is shooting 25-45(55.5%) from the field during this four game stretch which includes 12-27(44.4%) from three point range averaging three three pointers a game. He is also 11-15(73.3%) on free throws during that stretch.

For this season Wilcox is now averaging 14.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks. He is shooting 43.9% on field goals, 40.8% on three pointers and 83.5% on free throws. He is making 2.3 three pointers a game. Had Wilcox not missed those three games more importantly that California game the Huskies would be playing in the NCAA tournament. For Wilcox who will for sure be back next season this NIT experience is good for him to work on his game for next season.

- It was nice to see Aziz N'Diaye break out of his slump. In the previous three games N'Diaye had averaged just 6.0 PPG and 5.0 RPG with 4.3 fouls per game. N'Diaye has been fighting foul trouble lately but not this game. In this game N'Diaye played 30 minutes for only the fourth time this season. In those 30 minutes N'Diaye scored 11 points on 5-11 shooting with seven rebounds and two steals. N'Diaye like Wilcox will be another player who will be here next season so this game experience is good for N'Diaye who will be expected to have a big year next year. N'Diaye was selected first team all defensive team.

For the year N'Diaye is averaging 8.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.1 blocks per game and 0.6 steals per game in 23.5 minutes per game. He is shooting 53.1% from the field. N'Diaye has played two seasons with the Huskies now mostly as a starter will have one more year left. His presence in the paint allows the Huskies to use more defensive looks because he is such a force in the middle. Now N'Diaye is starting to improve as a scorer as he has scored in double figures this year in 11 games out of 31. He has also grabbed double figures in rebounds in seven games as well. N'Diaye improvement for next year will be a big determining factor if the Huskies make the NCAA tournament next season or not.

- Darnell Gant scored zero points in his second to last home game as a Husky. Yet Lorenzo Romar praised Gant after the game because like usual Gant was guarding the other teams best player. Although Shurna still scored 24 he didn't go off on the Huskies like Ross did to the Wildcats. That is what the Huskies will miss most in Gant is his versatility on defense much like Justin Holiday last season. Gant didn't put up huge numbers but he is more valuable than some fans may think.

For the season now Gant is averaging 7.1 PPG, 5.3 rebounds per game, 0.4 steals and 0.2 blocks. Gant is shooting 45.4% from the field while shooting 32.9% from three point range making 0.7 three pointers a game. Gant will now be playing in his final game at home this Tuesday against the Oregon Ducks as the Huskies have won 99 games in Gant's career.

- Tony Wroten for the second straight game in the NIT didn't look to score but make his teammates better. Wroten scored a career low two points making only one of five field goal attempts. He did record eight rebounds, seven assists with two blocks. He also had five turnovers as he is showing why he should come back for another year. Interesting note on Wroten in games he shoots the ball under 10 games the Huskies are 6-2 including winning their past five games. Wroten is averaging 5.7 assists per game in his last six games as he is working on that part of his game.

For the year Wroten is averaging 16.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.9 steals and 0.4 blocks per game while shooting 45.2% from the field. In the NIT in two games Wroten is averaging only 5.5 PPG but 7.5 APG. He is also averaging 4.5 RPG. Look for Wroten to be more aggressive next game against the Oregon Ducks as he is averaging 15.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 4.5 APG this year as the teams split the season series.

- Terrence Ross had one of those special games that makes you think us Husky fans won't get to enjoy anymore. Ross was terrific scoring 32 points on 10-21 shooting, making 6-14(43.6%) on three pointers while grabbing eight rebounds. Ross got the Huskies back in the game in the first half then in the second half put the Wildcats away. Ross has been on fire as of late. In the last five games Ross is averaging 21.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.6 steals and 0.8 BPG. During that stretch he is shooting 40-79(50.6%) from the field and 17-39(43.5%) from three point range making 3.4 three pointers a game. In this two game NIT Ross is averaging 27.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG. He has made nine three pointers so far. Ross on the year is averaging 16.0 PPG and 6.5 RPG. He is shooting 46.0% from the field and 36.9% from three point range making two full three's a game. Ross is a terrific talent and is projected to be a late first round pick in this loaded draft. Hopefully Ross returns to the Huskies like his teammate Tony Wroten so the Huskies can make some noise this upcoming season.

- I'll give Romar credit for having his team prepared to play in a tournament that nobody wanted to play in. The Huskies are proving the selection committee wrong and should be in the NCAA tournament. Romar isn't letting his team be distracted and they are focused. The Huskies are playing some of their best ball of the season in the last 1.5 games which has been sad to see. Romar has seen his team win 99 games over these four years. The Pac-12 coach of the year now must do his biggest recruiting job this offseason. Unlike most recruiting pitches where you beg kids to come to your school Romar will be begging two kids in particular to stay at his school in Ross and Wroten. If those two come back next year the Huskies won't be playing in the NIT elite 8 instead could be in the NCAA tournament elite 8. As is the Huskies are one win away from Madison Square Garden in New York City.

All the Huskies have to do now is beat the Oregon Ducks at home something they have done two years in a row and 10 of the last 11 at home. The Huskies have dominated the Ducks in the Romar era but also dominated the Oregon State Beavers as well but that didn't stop them from losing to the Beavers in the Pac-12 tournament. Only one home game is left this season and both the Ducks and Huskies are proving they were more than capable of doing well in the NCAA tournament. The Huskies are playing well especially at home where they are 17-2 and with one more win they'll have a return trip to Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Huskies are making the most of this NIT opportunity and are now one game away from going to the mecca of basketball. If Ross keeps playing the way he is playing the Huskies will keep winning and he'll be a very rich man next season.

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