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Huskies play up to potential in win over ASU

Fri., Jan. 3, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. – Outside an upbeat locker room, standing against a yellow wall inside Wells Fargo Arena’s dingy concourse, Washington players spoke of progress in their pursuit of greater defensive performance.

They said the same things their coach, Lorenzo Romar, has been insisting recently: Statistics and scores aside, the Huskies are getting better.

So on Thursday night, the Huskies left here after a surprising 76-65 victory over Arizona State that wasn’t nearly so close, UW at one point leading by 24 points in the second half before letting walk-ons close the deal.

“I thought tonight was one of the first times all year that we came out and played like our identity was on the defensive end,” Romar said before the Huskies boarded a bus that would take them to Tucson for Saturday’s game at No. 1 Arizona. “That was our identity. And that’s something we’ve been trying to build and build, and hadn’t quite got there. And I thought on the road, we did a good job of that.”

ASU (11-3, 0-1 Pac-12) made nine of its 31 field-goal attempts in the first half – that’s a clip of 29 percent – and the Huskies (9-5, 1-0) used their myriad defensive stops to key a strong transition game that led to quick buckets.

Those buckets also led to a 30-7 run to finish the first half. UW entered halftime with a 40-23 lead that had to come as a surprise to approximately every one of the 5,788 in attendance.

“We played defense. That was the main thing,” said senior guard C.J. Wilcox, who led five UW players in double figures with 17 points. “We guarded them as a team.”

ASU guard Jahii Carson, the Pac-12’s fourth-leading scorer, was never a factor. He scored 10 of his team-high 15 points in the first half, but shot 5 of 12 from the field and had four turnovers.

It took a committee to force those numbers.

“It’s not 1-on-1 with him. You’re going to lose that battle,” Romar said. “You have to guard him as a team. And we just tried to, for lack of a better way to put it, zone up off the ball when he had the ball.”

Meanwhile, the Huskies attacked in transition, a pursuit led by freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who scored 12 points and keyed a few breaks himself by grabbing seven rebounds.

“When we were locked in defensively like that, we were getting stops and it allows us to get out in transition,” Williams-Goss said. “I think that was the biggest key to our offensive success, was being locked in defensively.”

Washington (9-5, 1-0)—Blackwell 3-5 4-4 10, Williams-Goss 6-14 0-0 12, Anderson 1-3 1-2 3, Andrews 5-10 3-5 14, Wilcox 6-13 1-2 17, Johnson 4-7 2-2 10, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor 0-1 0-0 0, Sterling 0-0 1-2 1, Simmons 1-2 2-2 4, Dierickx 0-1 1-2 1, Kemp, Jr. 2-4 0-1 4. Totals 28-60 15-22 76.

Arizona St. (11-3, 0-1)—Gilling 1-4 2-2 4, McKissic 5-10 2-3 13, Bachynski 5-7 3-4 13, Carson 5-12 5-7 15, Marshall 2-11 0-0 4, Murray 1-2 0-0 2, Robinson 1-2 2-2 5, Koulechov 1-3 0-0 2, Jacobsen 0-1 2-6 2, Tummala 1-2 1-2 3, Kearney 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 22-57 19-28 65.

Halftime—Washington 40-23. 3-Point Goals—Washington 5-13 (Wilcox 4-10, Andrews 1-2, Williams-Goss 0-1), Arizona St. 2-14 (Robinson 1-1, McKissic 1-5, Tummala 0-1, Koulechov 0-1, Marshall 0-3, Gilling 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Washington 40 (Blackwell, Simmons, Williams-Goss 7), Arizona St. 34 (Bachynski, McKissic 5). Assists—Washington 14 (Anderson, Andrews, Williams-Goss 3), Arizona St. 8 (Marshall, McKissic 2). Total Fouls—Washington 21, Arizona St. 17. A—5,788.

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