An interesting win for the Huskies last night. It was kind of ugly at times, way too many turnovers for the second straight game, and 2-for-14 shooting from 3-point range. But the Huskies beat an undermanned USC team and managed to do so pulling away late, allowing some of their younger players to get some playing time.
Was it pretty? No. But right now, wins come first, and style points, well that's just gravy.
From my game story ...
In terms of overall aesthetics, the Washington Huskies’ 69-41 win over the USC Trojans ranks somewhere near roadside graffiti and finger painting.
But when you are in first place and trying to make the NCAA tournament, wins are what matter. Style points? Those are an added bonus.
Despite a handful of missed shots, and 17 turnovers, the Huskies were able to do what was needed against the undermanned Trojans and improve to 9-2 in the Pacific-12 Conference.
Washington remains alone atop the conference standings, a game ahead of California and Colorado, which both improved to 8-3 with wins Saturday.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar warned that USC would try to make the game ugly. With only six scholarship players available, the Trojans had no reasonable chance to compete otherwise.
“They slowed it down a lot and tried to run a lot of clock,” said senior Darnell Gant. “We’re an uptempo team. When you play teams like that, they kind of lull you to sleep. And you get caught standing and not moving the ball around.”
The chart is pretty startling in a few categories. Obviously, UW should have dominated the offensive rebounding percentage. USC had one player taller than 6-8 -- and he wasn't very good. Tony Wroten had five offensive boards. He just has an incredible knack for putting back his own misses too.
The shooting is also lopsided. Even though UW was 2-for-14 from 3-point range, USC was 1-for-16 from beyond the arc and shot a ton of 17- to 18-foot jumpshots. Those aren't good shots for a good shooting team, and USC is not anywhere near a good shooting team. Give UW some credit. I thought the Huskies did a much better job defending on the perimeter and keeping pressure on the ball.
Three quick thoughts ...
1. Tony Wroten had 13 points, six rebounds (five offensive), eight assists and one turnover. Lorenzo Romar was most proud of the one turnover, saying "We're making progress." Wroten played one of his more controlled floor games. USC sagged off him a lot on his jumper. He still tried to penetrate, but instead of trying to get to get all the way tot he basket, he would get into the lane and make passes to his post players.
2. Speaking of post players, for the second straight game Shawn Kemp Jr. gave the Huskies quality minutes, particularly early in the game. Kemp had six points and a rebound in 13 minutes. More importantly, he's starting to play with less hesitation and his conditioning level is higher. He also has pretty decent hands. Unlike Aziz N'Diaye, Kemp has decent hands when it comes to catching passes in traffic, particularly from Wroten. Romar pointed out how much of a transition it is for Kemp, who had not played basketball for two years.
3. Abdul Gaddy had a rough game at times. I think he was 0-for-7 from the field at one point with four turnovers. He's taken a lot of criticism from fans and some of the media. But his value to the team isn't always measured in the box score. Yes that's cliche. But he's the one who gets them into their offense, who makes sure they are in the right defenses and does a lot of little things. Does he need to play stronger and start coming around offensively for the Huskies to have a chance? Yes. But I think it's a work in progress. The expectations that were set for this kid when he came in as a freshman were sort of unrealistic. Then again, when you are rated as the second best point guard in the country behind John Wall, that tends to happen.