The night was filled with oddities and shot-making.
Offensively challenged much of the season, the Washington Huskies busted loose for a season-high point total in a 96-92 win over Arizona State on Saturday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, snapping a four-game losing streak.
The Huskies’ 52 points in the first half also set a season high, and was one short of their total in Thursday’s 57-53 loss to Arizona.
C.J.Wilcox was held scoreless before the break, but had a career-high seven assists in the game.
In one stretch, Scott Suggs blocked a dunk attempt by 7-foot-2 Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski. It was Suggs’ seventh block of the season.
A play later, Desmond Simmons made a 3-pointer, his fifth of the season.
Shawn Kemp Jr. scored a career-high 18 points via jump hooks and force. Andrew Andrews led the Huskies (13-9 overall, 5-4 Pacific-12 Conference) with a career-high 20 points, many of which came after pushing the ball with ferocity.
Not to be overlooked, Aziz N’Diaye scored 16 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked Arizona State’s final shot attempt and converted a three-point play
with 35 seconds to go to put Washington in front 92-89.
The Huskies led by as many as 15 points in the second half and by eight at the break.
Uncontainable Sun Devils point guard Jahii Carson scored 22 points in the second half on his way to a career-high 32.
Wilcox, Suggs, Abdul Gaddy and Hikeem Stewart tried to guard Carson, who was slipperier than an excitable chicken sprayed down with WD-40.
After N’Diaye snagged Washington’s 14th offensive rebound of the night, Carrick Felix missed a 3-pointer. Wilcox, who was 2-for-11 from the field, made two free throws to push Washington in front 94-89 with 20 seconds remaining.
But Carson, a 28.6 percent 3-point shooter coming into the game, pulled up from the Alaska Airlines logo painted on the floor about four feet behind the 3-point line.
Timeout, Arizona State.
The Sun Devils were down two in a game they never led.
Washington came out of the timeout and was again bitten by a strange nemesis. The Huskies have had problems inbounding the ball all season and Gaddy was called for a 5-second violation.
Arizona State left its fate with the 5-foot-9 Carson. He drove right and tried to shoot over Suggs and N’Diaye. The latter got a piece of the ball, Washington corralled it, fed Wilcox and he was fouled.
“We wanted to make sure we kept Carson in front and that Aziz was in position if he drove to defend the on-ball screen,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We wanted to make sure we went over the top of the on-ball screen, because if we went under, he could have hit the jumper.”
Wilcox’s final two free throws locked down the win. As did Washington brutalizing Arizona State (17-5, 6-3) in the paint.
Kemp made his second consecutive start and dominated on both ends. N’Diaye did the same. Washington’s strong men pushed around Arizona State’s more slight defenders. The Huskies scored 50 points in the paint.
“We got crushed inside,” Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said.
Washington shot 52.9 percent. Arizona State shot 63.8 percent. Andrews had 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the first half. Carson scored 10 on 5-for-5 shooting. There’s no defending the lack of defense throughout the evening.
“I’m ecstatic that we won, but I’m going to go against the grain of how I usually am – glass half-full,” Romar said. “If we’re not going to defend better, we can’t expect to come out on top.”
N’Diaye was in search of a good cut man after Felix landed on N’Diaye’s head and produced a gash over his left eye early in the game. N’Diaye had to leave the floor to receive a few stitches and returned ready to rumble with a large Band-Aid pasted in line with his left eyebrow.
He was staggered, yet not down, which is how Washington exits the first half of conference play. The Huskies will finish Pac-12 play with five of nine at home. The two road swings are through Los Angeles and Arizona, where Carson will be waiting.
Washington is tied for fourth in the conference with Cal and trails Oregon (7-2), Arizona (6-3) and Arizona State (6-3). It has bad losses to Oregon State and Utah. It has solid wins over Colorado, which is having its own struggles, and now Arizona State.
This week encapsulated the perplexing Huskies. Thursday, they scored 53 points but held Arizona to 57. Saturday, they scored 96 (the most since putting up 109 against Cal on Feb. 10, 2011) and allowed 92.
Nine games to go. What will happen is anyone’s guess.todd.dybas@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas