You could argue the Huskies look equally as bad against Arizona – probably even worse, if you factor in the 32-point drubbing last month – but I thought the Huskies looked remarkably improved in last Saturday’s matchup against the Wildcats. We only lost by 5 points, and that’s while we got absolutely nothing from Noah Dickerson (0 points, 2 rebounds, and 5 fouls in 7 minutes). Arizona is definitely a better all-around team, but they just don’t strike me as unbeatable.
Utah, for whatever reason, has our God damn number. We could play them a dozen times this year and I think we’d lose each and every one of them. And, it’s not like the Utes are this juggernaut! They’re pretty good, I think they’re even a cinch to make the NCAA Tournament, but they still put their pants on one leg at a time (i.e. lose at Oregon State, who’s pretty terrible).
And, it’s not like the Huskies are getting run out of the gym. We lost by 5 at home and 8 on the road to the Utes, with both games pretty close the whole way through. The only thing is, at no point did I believe the Utes would ever fumble down the stretch, and to their credit, they hit all their outside shots when they needed to, and dominated in the paint throughout. Particularly galling was the way they were able to just dismantle our full court press for easy lay-ups at the end of the game. This is a team that’s experienced and skilled at passing the ball (in spite of their 17 turnovers last night, they had assists on 26 of 35 made baskets).
This fucking team, with the God damn best fucking center in the Pac-12 in Jakob Poeltl (who was 11 for 12 from the floor last night in somewhat limited duty due to early foul trouble), also managed to hit 10 of 17 three pointers, with two of their shooters hitting 9 of those 10 shots. Just fucking incredible.
The Huskies did all they could do to stay in it. Marquese Chriss was a monster all game, hitting 10 of 18 shots (1 of 3 from beyond the arc) for 24 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists. I know the spotlight is on Dejounte Murray and whether or not he’ll be a One & Done player, but I think Chriss is the best all-around basketball player on this team right now. Dude can do it all, from the low post, to the mid-range jumper, to the 3-ball. Honestly, I’m more worried about HIM being a One & Done player than I am anyone else.
Speaking of Murray, he’s followed up the game of his life against ASU last week with two real stinkers. Against Arizona, he was 4 of 14 from the field for 11 points, then last night he was only 2 of 11 for 4 points. It’s this sort of inconsistency that leads me to believe he probably needs another year in college, but I guess we’ll see.
Andrews had a superb game last night. You know he’s always going to do some Andrew Andrews-type things, but he finished 8 of 16 from the floor, with 6 boards, 5 assists, and 22 points. That’s with Utah’s version of the Dawg Pack taunting him relentlessly whenever he had the ball in his hands. So, you know, good on him.
The Huskies are in a bit of a slump at the moment, having lost 3 of 4 and 4 of the last 6 games after kicking off the first part of the Pac-12 season in first place. It’s not too late to turn this thing around – as of the start of this week, many Bracketologists still had the Huskies as one of the last teams in the NCAA Tournament – but if we ARE going to turn it around, it needs to start now. The Huskies, if they truly want to be a Tournament team, need to start differentiating themselves from the other middle-of-the-road teams in the conference. That means beating Colorado on Saturday. That means sweeping the Bay Area schools next week at home. That means taking care of business against the Beavers and Cougars, and HOPEFULLY coming away with a victory against the Ducks on the 28th. Even if the Huskies don’t beat the Ducks, there are still wins out there on the table that will help our standing. It all starts this weekend.
And, not for nothing, but here’s to hoping we don’t have to play Utah in the Pac-12 Tournament.