Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see a second of the Thursday night game against the California Golden Bears, because 8pm starts are a thing for the Pac-12, and with my schedule being what it is, I’m in bed by that time.
The Huskies did their thing, though, in beating Cal 66-56. Cal was held to just under 36% shooting from beyond the arc, and missed more free throws than they hit to seal the deal. The Huskies were pretty sloppy in their own right, but did just enough down the stretch, led by Jaylen Nowell’s 20 points and 5 boards. Thybulle filled up the stat sheet as usual, Crisp hit a couple huge shots and didn’t force things offensively, and the Dawgs got double-digit scoring out of Dickerson and Nahziah Carter to round things out.
I was able to catch the Stanford game on Saturday night, which unfortunately never really went the Huskies’ way. We found ourselves down 21-12 midway through the first half before a Husky run made it just a 2-point deficit at halftime. Then, after trading some leads early in the second half, the Cardinal went on another run to go up 13 a little past the midway point. The Huskies would go on another run to get to within 2 points at the under-4 time out, but we ultimately couldn’t sustain it and Stanford ended up winning by 9.
This was a tough one. Stanford was 9-8 heading into this game, but only had 1 conference loss, and played a seriously difficult non-conference scheduled. In other words, this team is MUCH better than their overall record, and I expect them to be a Tournament team (barring injury) come March. The Huskies were able to keep them in check from the 3-point line, for the most part. But, they just KILLED us on the boards, grabbing 48 to our 28 (and 14 on the offensive glass to our 3). The Huskies did their damnedest, winning the turnover battle 18-10, out-blocking them by a whopping 12-3 margin, and beating them 10-4 in steals. Ultimately, though, this game came down to poor Husky shooting. 5/22 from long distance, 37.5% overall, and only 17/26 from the charity stripe. With foul trouble being pretty equal on both sides, the shooting thing was ultimately too big to overcome.
I think it’s encouraging that the Huskies can hang with a team like Stanford. We play them again in late February, and it wouldn’t shock me if we somehow prevailed.
It’s unfortunate to drop a home game, but remember how far this team has come since last season. It’s also important to note that the Huskies have been just as good on the road as they’ve been at home, and their style of play can work regardless of location. This is fundamentally important, especially when you consider this team wants to get back to the NCAA Tournament, and ALL of those games are away from your home arena.
The Huskies look to limit this to a 1-game losing streak as they head to the Mountain schools this week. Utah doesn’t appear to be particularly strong this year, and Colorado appears to be better than anyone expected. I wouldn’t expect either of those things to matter, as it wouldn’t shock me if the Huskies won both games, lost both games, or split them either direction.