The Washington Huskies men’s basketball team is on a 10-game winning streak! We’re 8-0 in Pac-12 play! We just beat the Trojans by 13 points to maintain our undefeated status at home! We have to be one more win this weekend from FINALLY re-cracking the Top 25!
I’ll admit, I was a little worried about last night’s game. I mean, let’s face it, a loss is coming. We’re not going 18-0 in conference play; it’s just not happening. And, with how talented the Trojans are, I thought, “Who’s better than them?” With the way they’ve played of late, it seemed like a sneaky trap game.
But, the truth of the matter is, I don’t think ANYONE in the Pac-12 is good enough to straight up beat the Huskies when we’re playing our best. The only team that can beat us IS us (that’s what the new Jordan Peele movie is about, right?).
This is the Husky team we’ve been waiting for these last four years. We’ve been waiting for these veteran players to grow up and show some consistency. One game, they’d be lights out, then the next game they’d be falling all over themselves to give the game away. If you took this team from two years ago and transplanted it in our timeline, the Dawgs would probably be somewhere around 4-4 right now, with no dreams whatsoever of contending for a Tourney berth.
Now, we’re getting to the point where the Huskies don’t even NEED their best game to beat other teams. Last night, the Huskies turned the ball over a whopping 19 times. Jaylen Nowell had one of his worst games ever in that category, with 7. Lots of carelessness, lots of risky down-court passes, lots of low-percentage plays. However, we were able to generate 17 steals to counter that (USC had 18 turnovers total) and 4 blocks. That, on top of a sound rebounding night (40 to 28) and our usual brand of quality perimeter defense (holding the Trojans to 5/16 from beyond the arc) was more than enough to carry the day.
Noah Dickerson was the star of the show, after largely taking a backseat through conference play to date. He finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 7/10 from the field and 7/10 from the free throw line. We finally ran into a team that didn’t exclusively double-team Dickerson every single time he touched the ball, and the Senior power forward made them pay. Every time the Huskies needed a bucket to stop the bleeding, Dickerson was there. Every time we needed a board to keep the Trojans from getting too many second-chance points, Dickerson was there. If this guy shows up on Saturday, we might be talking about back-to-back Huskies winning Player of the Week (Nowell won it last week).
Matisse Thybulle showed up as he usually does (7 steals, 6 boards, 2 blocks, 2 assists), but he also showed up offensively with 17 points. His long-range shot isn’t quite back yet, but he scored in other ways (including 6/7 at the charity stripe).
Nowell was able to help out in other ways, so the 7 turnovers weren’t totally debilitating. He had 12 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, and 4 steals. And, not to be outshined, David Crisp finished with 15 points, 2 boards, 2 assists, and a steal. All in all, it was a great game for the upperclassmen.
There wasn’t much from our bench, but Naz Carter and Dominic Green had their moments. I feel like this is the type of game we’re bound to see as we approach Tourney time, with the leaders taking over.
It’s almost sad to see this month go. January has been very good to the Huskies this year. Let’s see how long we can keep it going.