Late start today, but it allowed me to do some pondering about last night's game as well. Video highlights above are from QBSacker. Here's the boxscore from statsheet.com
Obviously a win is a win is a win. But that second half wasn't much to fun to watch. The Huskies admittedly lost focus with the big lead. What they realized is that this team isn't experienced enough to suddenly turn the switch back on and find that focus and intensity. You can get away with it against a team less talented - like Arizona State. But if that happens on Saturday against Arizona or on the road at WSU or UCLA and it could be a problem.
From my game story ...
The Arizona State Sun Devils need to make basketball games as ugly as possible to have any sort of chance to win. And being good hosts, the Washington Huskies felt kind enough to help ASU’s cause on more than few occasions.
But after storming to an 18-point lead at halftime, the Huskies had plenty of second-half wiggle room. So despite playing indifferently after the break, Washington still prevailed, 77-69, Thursday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Should it have been a wider margin than eight points?
Without a doubt, but the Huskies played like a team that wanted to put the game on fast-forward and move ahead to Saturday’s showdown with Arizona.
“We played well the first half, we played bad had in the second half,” junior point guard Abdul Gaddy said. “It’s simple really. We just got bored with success and tried to get the game over with.”
It might not have been convincing, but it kept Washington tied with California atop the Pacific-12 standings. The Golden Bears rallied to defeat Oregon, 86-83, to also improve to 11-3 in conference play.
There was no such drama in the UW’s win. Unlike their 60-54 win over ASU (8-18 overall, 4-10 Pacific-12 Conference) in Tempe, Ariz., the Huskies (18-8) were able to get a lead and stretch it against the Sun Devils’ zone defense. Here's Tim Booth's game story for the AP
Here's Scott Johnson's game story from the Everett Herald.
From Doug Haller's game story in the Arizona Republic ...
In the end, they didn't have the firepower to match Washington, losing 77-69 Thursday in front of 9,820 fans in Alaska Airlines Arena, but for one stretch in the second half, ASU was actually competitive in a road game.
That hasn't happened in a while. Over the past month, the Sun Devils had been routed at California and Stanford, Colorado and even Utah. At Washington, they fell behind by 24 early in the second half.
Instead of wilting, they rallied. Trent Lockett and Carrick Felix hit 3-pointers. Lockett scored on a drive. Kyle Cain chased after a loose ball, diving into the ASU bench, earning pats on the back from nearly everyone on the roster.
With a 15-2 spurt, the Sun Devils pulled to within 11 with 11 minutes to go.
"We definitely showed some improvement," Lockett said. "We had stretches where we played decently. You try to take positives out of that, but again, it's the same story." Not much to say about the chart. The reason they are so close is how poorly UW played in the second half defensively.
1. Tony Wroten struggled defensively. Yes, he had six steals. He's got unbelievably quick hands and great anticipation. But he couldn't keep Chris Colvin in front of him. Perhaps more frustrating for Romar was Wroten's failure to hustle and recover on a couple possessions and a couple of times where he just jogged back. It seems like Romar is allowing Wroten some leeway when it comes to these defensive shortcomings. Maybe its just one bad game. But I'm almost certain a message will be delivered.
2. We talk so much about Terrence Ross taking shots and stepping forward. But for Washington to have any sort of chance of winning the next four games and making a run in the Pac-12 tournament, C.J. Wilcox must be a factor. His presence on the floor and his ability stretch defenses are vital to any success for the Huskies. He makes things so much easier for Ross and Wroten.
3. Aziz N'Diaye may frustrate people with his limited offensive game, his inability to catch cleanly in the post and his under 40 percent free throw shooting. But without him, the Huskies get really small. And they become even more deficient defensively. He brings an element of toughness to a team that doesn't have much of it.