Washington's 65-60 win over Stanford that moved it to 3-0 n the conference after three consecutive road wins raises a couple questions: Is it more Washington or more the opposition? How about both?
The Huskies have played better defense to win three road homes to open Pac-12 play. And, three road wins is three road wins. They are exceptionally difficult to come by in the conference, where the typical goal is to split on the road and win at home.
That being said, it appears Washington has picked up the three road wins against three lower-echelon teams in the conference. Washington State, Cal and Stanford all have clear and ongoing issues. It's not going to be a good year for any.
The Huskies are one of four undefeated teams in the conference (UCLA, Oregon and Arizona State are the others). The resurgent Bruins are 2-0 on the road and Arizona State and Oregon, which play in Eugene today, each have a road win.
Washington came by its latest road win via a powerful performance from C.J. Wilcox. He scored a season-high 27 points and moved into 36th all-time on Washington's career scoring list. He also had nine rebounds and two blocks.
Desmond Simmons had 13 boards and Aziz N'Diaye continued to prove crucial -- Washington almost lost the lead while he rested in the second half -- with 14 points, seven rebounds and multiple screens that freed Wilcox. N'Diaye was 5-for-6 from the field and is an absurd 18-for-23 (78.3 percent) from the field in Pac-12 play. N'Diaye was even 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. Assistant coach Brad Jackson has been working with N'Diaye in an attempt to make him a better free-throw shooter.
After allowing Stanford to shoot 51.7 percent in the first half, Washington slowed the Cardinal in the second by not giving help on driving guards and laying off Josh Huestis. When Aaron Bright (5 foot 11) and Chasson Randle (6-1) drove, the Huskies wanted to stay home and let bigger guards defend. They also wanted to leave Huestis in other instances to help. It worked. The Cardinal shot 26.7 percent in the second half and Huestis, who hit his first jumper, finished the night 3-for-13 from the field.
After I get to the airport this morning, I'll add some more notes, quotes and thoughts. Three postgame videos are up, too.
Quotes from Stanford:
Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins"I thought they made plays at the end of the game that needed to be made. I thought their guys stepped up, made big shots, made some free throws and I thought we had some opportunities and we didn't complete the plays. Unfortunately, guys are having to learn how to do that because we have some guys in new roles. I think they're figuring it out, but it's going to be a little bit of a process for them, and they're going to get it. I like Dwight's move at the end. I thought he had the opportunity to maybe spin back and get a little better layup in the lane, and unfortunately you're not in those positions that often, so we're learning to do those things.
"I thought our looks were good, to be quite frank. Guys were pretty much wide open. Unfortunately they didn't go down tonight, and we've been shooting the three pretty well the last three or four games in a row. I thought in the first half, our execution was really good, ball movement, we did that really well. The second half I didn't think we moved the ball as well but we still got pretty good looks from three."
"We need to work on our kids understanding that they're a good team, and understanding that we've been very competitive in every single game we've played. Ours is a matter of getting over the hump. And getting over that hump is something you have to learn to do for any team, especially a team that hadn't had guys in that position that often. So that's where we are, and we have to continue to work on them understanding their psyche is, `We're a good team.' We have to go out there, get better this week, and show those improvements next week when we play again."
Stanford Senior Dwight Powell"We just need to play tougher. They played tougher for 40 minutes. We need to get those 50-50 balls and rebound, both on the defensive and offensive end. So, we've got to get tougher."
"It's very disappointing, obviously. We have high hopes and high expectations for ourselves, but we're going to bounce back. We're not going to let this get us down. We've got another game coming up this week, so we'll try to take the lessons that we have from this game and move forward."
Stanford Guard Chasson Randle"It's just the little things down the stretch that we didn't do, whether it was getting open on a lane, screening for one another, blocking out or getting that loose ball. We didn't do it tonight and overall that resulted in a loss. They were closing out a little bit more, but that just opened out other things that we could have done, like attacking the basket."