January 22, 2011 in Sports

No. 20 Huskies match their best conference start

UW downs Arizona State in Seattle
Tim Booth Associated Press
 
Kevin Casey photo

Arizona State’s Kyle Cain, left, defends as Washington’s Terrence Ross grabs a rebound from Arizona State’s Kyle Cain.
(Full-size photo)

SEATTLE — Matthew Bryan-Amaning carried Washington with a career-high 30 points and nine rebounds, and the 20th-ranked Huskies matched their best men’s basketball conference start in 24 years with an 88-75 win over scrappy Arizona State on Saturday.

Washington needed Bryan-Amaning’s career day with leading scorer Isaiah Thomas focused more on trying to slow Arizona State’s Ty Abbott at the defensive end. Thomas still did his part, knifing for a pair of driving layups in the last 4 minutes, including a right-handed finish at the rim with 1:44 left to give Washington a 78-71 lead.

Thomas finished with 19 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Huskies (15-4, 7-1 Pac-10).

Trent Lockett and Abbott both finished with 20 points for the Sun Devils (9-10, 1-6). Arizona State has dropped five straight conference games.

Scott Suggs added 10 for Washington, including a key 3-pointer with 1:08 left that matched the Huskies’ largest lead of eight. Abbott missed a deep 3-pointer on the Sun Devils’ next possession and Justin Holiday made one of two free throws to put the Huskies up by nine. Thomas finished off another impressive all-around effort with a driving three-point play with 30 seconds to go.

The Huskies are off to their best conference start since the 1986-87 season and will close out the first half of Pac-10 play next Sunday night at rival Washington State.

Thomas wasn’t able to continue his impressive run of consecutive games with 20 points and 10 assists. According to STATS LLC, Thomas was the first player in Division I since Northeastern’s Jose Juan Barea in February 2006 to post back-to-back games with at least 20 points and 10 assists.

Thomas finished two assists shy of being the first player in Washington history with three straight games of 10 or more assists.

But his contribution was more on the defensive end. The Huskies started the second half with Thomas on Abbott, after the Sun Devils’ leading scorer popped for 13 points in the first half. The move worked as Abbott got just three shots off in the first 81/2 minutes of the half, missing both as the Huskies built a 56-50 lead.

While Abbott was cooling off, Bryan-Amaning continued to carry the Huskies offense. He slammed a fast-break lob from Thomas and hit his first three shots. When he did miss, Darnell Gant’s tip gave Washington an eight-point lead with 11 minutes left, its largest of the game.

But Washington couldn’t shake the Sun Devils. Lockett’s free throws on consecutive possessions pulled Arizona State within 62-60 with 7:35 left and a few moments later, Rihards Kuksiks’ 3-pointer pulled the Sun Devils even at 63-all.

C.J. Wilcox answered with a 3 and Venoy Overton’s run-out basket put the Huskies up five, only to see Abbott hit a 3 from the corner and Lockett score on a baseline reverse to keep Arizona State within 70-68.

Bryan-Amaning and Thomas then combined to score the next eight Washington points and Suggs’ 3 served as the capper. Bryan-Amaning made 11 of 16 shots and all eight of his free throws.

Bryan-Amaning scored 10 of Washington’s first 13 points, but Abbott’s trio of 3-poiners helped keep the Sun Devils within 40-39 at halftime.

Carrick Felix, Arizona State’s second-leading scorer in conference play, finished with just five points after missing the previous game against Washington State due to illness.

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