I’m telling you, that game on Saturday was a sight to behold!
I’m still bouncing off the walls after Washington’s 78-75 victory over the Arizona Wildcats. It had everything: a sellout crowd on a blackout night, great taunts from the Dawg Pack, a touching, lowkey tribute to the return of Lorenzo Romar (an assistant coach on the Wildcats), a fast start by the Huskies (building a 7-point lead at halftime, and increasing to 14 early in the third quarter), and a terrific finish.
As expected, the Huskies ran into a bit of a cold stretch in the second half, as Arizona walked down that 14-point lead, to take a 3-point lead of their own, but for most of the later part of the second half it was a back-and-forth affair. In the end, Dominic Green hit a huge three ball to tie it up, and moments later – game tied at 75 – he hit the game-winning three-pointer to win it at the buzzer. Jaylen Nowell held for the final shot, drove the lane, had his shot swatted on a double-team, and fortunately the ball bounced right to Green on the right wing, with just enough time for him to raise up and shoot before pandemonium.
Green, the hero of the night, had 14 points on 4/5 shooting from beyond the arc. Noah Dickerson made his presence felt from the opening possession, netting a game-high 25 points to go with his 7 rebounds. David Crisp had one of his better games, with 16 points and 4 rebounds. Jaylen Nowell added 14 points, including a couple of big 3-pointers. All told, the Huskies were 8/14 from long distance, while holding Arizona to a lowly 2/12 (they’re the best 3-point shooting team from a percentage standpoint in the conference), making this a real Husky Special.
This was, without question, the best Husky basketball game since the Cold Blooded game in the Pac-10 Tournament (which, incidentally, they showed a replay of immediately following this game). I had completely forgotten anything before that Isaiah Thomas game-winner, like the fact that we had to hit a number of huge shots to get that game into overtime in the first place!
Anyway, it’s a banner moment for the Huskies. It’s just unfortunate that the Associated Press didn’t see it that way.
Arizona dropped from 9 to 13; Arizona State dropped from 25 to out of the poll; and the Huskies were responsible for all of that. The Huskies, now 17-6, and 7-3 in conference, with wins over 3 ranked opponents (including Kansas on the road), as well as a road win over USC, and it’s STILL not enough to get us into the Top 25. We’re technically 27th, which is a huge slap in the face to the Pac-12 as well as common decency.
NEVERTHELESS, the Huskies – as far as Bracketology is concerned – are IN! 10-seed on ESPN, 7-seed on CBS. 35th in RPI. After three straight home games, we go on the road to face the lowly Oregon schools this weekend. The Ducks are middle-of-the-road in conference – so that one might be a trap game – and the Beavers are considerably worse. We SHOULD win both of these games, to get ever-so-much closer to that critical 21-win mark. But, I guess don’t be shocked – especially if we have some off-shooting nights – if the Huskies lose at least 1 of these. Remember, this team isn’t suddenly perfect; we’re going to see a loss or two the rest of the way that wasn’t expected.
Still, lots of room for optimism going forward! We know now that we’re not the very worst team in the Pac-12 (that would be the Cougs, who we’ve beaten twice), and we also know we can play with – and BEAT – the very best team in the Pac-12 (that will always be Arizona, barring injury). This IS a Tournament team, barring a total collapse, which should make the next month and change pretty damn fun.