Final: UW, 60-51. Here's my game story.
The win moves the Huskies (20-7, 11-4)one game ahead of Arizona State (9-4), who was idle, and a game and a half ahead of UCLA and Cal, who lost this afternoon.
Quincy Pondexter led all scorers with 22 points and what huge for UW down the stretch.
A few quotes:
Romar, looking back: "One of the best feelings in the world is to go on the road and be down against a physical, scrappy hard, great defensive team at their home and come out on top. … And we did it as a team."
Romar, looking foward: "If you are going out to try to win a championship and your remaining games are at home, you've got to make sure that you prepare and not let those opportunities slip away. You couldn't ask better situation, but that's the situation we're in. Although we're playing against three very very good basketball teams."
USC coach Tim Floyd: You have to credit Washington's defense. They changes the game by pressuring us up there. We really struggled with it. They took advantage of us on the boards. They pounded us on the offensive glass and second-chance opportunities. ... They got 22 baskets off four assists, so that was put-backs and manufactured players. Pondexter too over the game, and we couldn't stop him.
Star of the game: UW junior forward Quincy Pondexter had a season-high 22 points – twice as many as any other player in the game. He did it by hitting 10 of 13 shots from the field and both of his two free throws.
Key stats: In a battle of the Pac-10's top two rebounding teams, UW won the battle of the boards, 40-30. Both teams were frigid from the field: USC shot .380; UW .379. … USC hit 3 of 12 3-point attempts (25 percent); UW hit 1 of 10 (10 percent).
Key run: Pondexter went on a personal 8-0 run, scoring four straight field goals late in the second half that moved the Huskies from four-points down to four-points ahead.
Observations: The Huskies concluded their Pac-10 road schedule with splits on their Los Angeles, the Bary Area and Arizona trips. In each case, they lost the first game and won the second. … This was Washington's lowest point total since scoring 54 in a loss to Kansas on Nov. 24. The Huskies had scored at least 71 points in their 13 previous games. … Isaiah Thomas had a career-low four points on two-of-seven shooting. … Jon Brockman, who was held without a field goal in the first meeting against USC, was 2-for-eight Saturday. … This was Washington's first win at Galen Center in three tries. … Only six Trojans scored, and the starters accounted for all but two of USC's points.
Next: No. 14 Arizona State, 8 p.m. Thursday, Hec Edmundson Pavilion; FSN.
Halftime: UW, 31-28. The Trojans jumped to a quick 22-11 lead and it seemed it might just be one of those games. However, the Huskies went on a 20-6 run from there to take a three-point lead into halftime.
The Huskies are doing it without a point from leading scorer Isaiah Thomas, who had an odd first half. He started, then was pulled to the bench after about two and a half minutes, then came in to play probably his normal minutes. But he admitted yesterday that he hates the SC gimmick defenses, and this isn't likely to change that.
UW's other starting guard Justin Dentmon also has had his trouble with the SC defense and the Trojans' big guards ... he has four points and didn't get his first field goal -- and therefore the only field goal of the Huskies' starting guards -- in the final minute of the half. Thomas and Dentmon are a combined 1-for-11 from the field.
Pondexter leads UW with 10 points, Leonard Washington leads SC with eight.
Tipoff: Huskies going with their usual starting lineup: Brockman, Dentmon, Pondexter, Gant and Thomas.
Lots of empty seats in Galen Center as we get going.
(Cool pregame animation where a trojan runs out on a cartoon court and drives his sword through the Washington "W" logo.)
Around the league: As mentioned in the post below, UW got a little pregame good news as WSU beat UCLA today at Pauley Pavilion.
And that was followed by another break for UW as Oregon State knocked off California, 65-54 ... meaning two of the teams that woke up this morning in a tie for first place have already lost.
Pregame: Both teams have been out for initial warmups: Huskies in purple, Trojans in white.
Tipoff is 4 p.m., and the game will be carried on FSN.
Normal gameday blogging plans: pregame news as it happens, in-game updates and postgame notes and quotes.