It’s not going to get much more efficient.
C.J. Wilcox scored 27 points on 13 shots Wednesday night during Washington’s 66-61 win over Saint Louis. He missed a 3-pointer that rattled out and a short push shot that it appeared he was fouled on. Other than that, Wilcox was lethal.
Washington needed him to be. Coming into the game, the Huskies were a bumbling 2-3 after Colorado State dominated them on the boards last Saturday. Scott Suggs again didn’t play.
“Understatement, we needed that one,” Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar said.
They got it because they were able to grind the game out with Saint Louis. The Billikens don’t have the talent they had last year when they mopped up the Huskies in Saint Louis. But, it’s still a meatgrinder of a team to deal with.
So much so, that Saint Louis’ ability to muck up the screening in Washington’s high-post offense forced the Huskies to switch back to their old motion offense for much of the second half.
Washington felt it could spread Saint Louis out and take it at the Billikens off the dribble. It worked. Washington shot a staggering 63.6 percent in the second half.
“They were really bodying us up, grabbing a lot and holding, just really chugging everything,” Romar said. “It just kind of slowed us up. When we spread them out we didn’t think that they could beat us off the dribble, and that proved to be true. Our guys got into the lane and made plays.”
The people in the lane included Wilcox, who has begun to curl off the numerous pindowns he receives. After scoring a career-high 28 points against Colorado State in an inefficient 25 shots, Wilcox was pinpoint against Saint Louis. Here’s a look at his shots by half:
With a shot chart like that, there’s really nothing a defense can do. Wilcox turned the three first-half curls for shots in the lane into fades in the second half. Washington also ran a play for him out of a timeout in the second half which resulted in an open 3-pointer. Wilcox has figured out his spots in the high-post offense and was also able to be just as effective when the Huskies reverted to more of a motion look later in the second half.
“Just kind of taking what the defense gives me,” Wilcox said. “It’s just a read. It helps playing with Gaddy for a while and (Andrew Andrews) understands it as well. They know where I’m going to be and that definitely helps.”
Wilcox shot two free throws Wednesday night, which is why just looking at his free-throw attempts can lead to poor conclusions. He was plenty aggressive, but he also didn’t go all the way to the basket and into contact. Take Tony Wroten. Wroten shot a lot of free throws last season because he was going all the way to the rim. One of the reasons for that is because he had no answers in between the 3-point line and within three feet of the basket. Wilcox is able to use a little push shot off two feet following a curl and pivot then turn to a fadeaway in the mid-post. His skill set allows him to not have to push all the way to the rim just for the sake of doing so. Is drawing fouls a good thing? Of course, especially when you shoot 83.3 percent at the free-throw line. Wilcox having just two attempts Wednesday didn’t mean he wasn’t aggressive. In fact it was the opposite.
More news, notes and quotes from Wednesday night’s win:
> Jernard Jarreau continues to show an intriguing skill set. He’s been effective shooting mid-range jumpers, and as a redshirt freshman starter, his field-goal percentage at 46.2 percent is very respectable.
“I thought Jernard Jarreau played very good. He made some defensive mistakes. He was aggressive, took shots when he needed to, made some,” Romar said.
Jarreau will be limited this year because of his lack of strength. Though, repeating the six-point, six-rebound performance he had Wednesday should be a reasonable expectation, and one that would benefit the Huskies, especially until Shawn Kemp Jr. returns.
> We saw a lot of fire from Abdul Gaddy on Wednesday. When one of Wilcox’s shots rolled around then in, Gaddy yelled and threw a fist while standing in front of the bench. He was again aggressive to the rim and with his offense. Gaddy finished with 16 points, four assists and two rebounds.
> Washington out-rebounded Saint Louis. It’s mild progress. Saint Louis came into the game 315th in rebounding in the country. That’s partly because it plays a low-possession game, and partly because the Billikens just aren’t very good at it. Their rebounding percentage is 50.5, good for 178th in the country, according to statsheet.com. Washington’s is 48.4, which is a harrowing 248th in the country.
> Andrew Andrews started in place of Scott Suggs. Hikeem Stewart was one of the first Huskies off the bench. Martin Breunig did not play. That rotation will likely remain in place as long as Stewart plays solid minutes, like he did Wednesday.
> Scott Suggs was in street clothes. His timetable for a return from plantar fasciitis is unclear. Kemp is said to be making progress.
> Washington started the second half with a 10-4 run. It led by as many as 11 points before Saint Louis whittled down the lead to as few as four points with 27 seconds left.