For all the missteps in the first half of conference play — losing to Utah and Oregon State, most notably — Washington went into Saturday’s game with Arizona State ranked 70th in RPI. That particular metric is flawed, but still used when looking ahead to the tournament. So, it seemed odd Washington was still hanging around.
It’s also odd to see Arizona State again with such a gaudy record. Which meant the unpredictable way Washington beat the Sun Devils 96-92 all the more bizarre.
Washington scored a season-high 96 points and C.J. Wilcox was scoreless at halftime, went 2-for-11 on the night and had just 10 points. Yet, there was Andrew Andrews with smoke coming off his shoes while he pushed the ball like at not other time this season. Shawn Kemp Jr. had his second consecutive start and went all Cedric Maxwell vs. Marc Iavaroni on Arizona State’s Jonathan Gilling, putting Gilling in the low post torture chamber all night. Kemp Jr. scored a career-high 18 points.
Andrews had a career-high 20 points. Scott Suggs scored 14 and showed the most fire he has all season. Desmond Simmons scorer 10.
Difficult to overstate Aziz N’Diaye’s impact, once again. He scored 16 points (he was 7 for 8 from the field), had 10 boards, for of which were offensive and blocked one shot. One of his offensive boards turned into a three-point play with 35 seconds to play and put Washington up 92-89. His one block came on the final shot for Arizona State, a drive from Jahii Carson that N’Diaye managed to get a fingertip on. Suggs did well to stay with Carson, too.
Other notes, quotes and thoughts:
> Washington was 21-for-22 (95.5 percent) from the free-throw line. That’s an enormous shift from the last three games when it missed 24 free throws while shooting 56.4 percent at the line and lost that trio by a total of 17 points. Wilcox was 6-for-6 from the line despite his poor shooting from the field.
> Wilcox was as frustrated as I’ve seen him since arriving at Washington. He finished with four fouls, three of which came while trying to guard almost unstoppable Jahii Carson. Wilcox was 0-for-3 from behind the 3-point line, making Saturday night just the second time he has not hit a 3 in a game this season (the other was against Seton Hall).
“Didn’t shoot the ball well,” Wilcox said. “I got frustrated with the refs a little bit because they were calling those fouls but I got held the whole game, so it was frustrating that they were making the calls that they were. But, I was glad my teammates were stepping up. That definitely helps.” Wilcox also stuck with it to make his late free throws in addition to a career-high seven assists. He also had two steals and a block.
> Washington continues to have trouble inbounding the ball either at all or to the right place. Abdul Gaddy had a brain freeze that gave Arizona State a chance to tie the game with 13.9 seconds left when he was called for a five-second call. Gaddy missed an open Wilcox darting up the floor and didn’t use the timeout Washington still had available. Luckily for him, N’Diaye’s block saved him. Gaddy had a solid night. He scores eight points, had sevens assists and five rebounds. But, he also added four more turnovers to his ledger.
> Excellent nights for Kemp and Andrews. Both went to their strengths: Andrews pushing the ball and Kemp scoring in the post against a smaller, less athletic guy. The counter for Kemp was that he had trouble chasing Gilling on the perimeter. Gilling hit 6 of his 8 3-point attempts, most with Kemp “guarding” him. Closing out shooters is a weak spot for Kemp and an understandable challenge since he’s been a post player all his life. Washington needs that aspect of his game to improve.
> Simmons had 10 points and seven boards. He’s not sulking since losing his starting gig. He was extremely active Saturday night.
> Carson is the Real Deal Holyfield. He was 2-for-2 from behind the 3-point line despite coming into the game shooting 28.6 percent from there. If he hits 3-pointers, there is nothing a defense can do to stop him. He’s much too fast to crowd. Putting longer players on him, like Washington did with Suggs and Wilcox, just makes him think he has an even bigger advantage with his quickness. He had 32 points, five assists and one turnover in 33 minutes on Saturday. He’s a freshman. So, look out.
> A word about tempo-free stats: I like sabermetrics. They are not the end-all to sports assessment, though are a necessary and insightful component. Looking at basketball through a tempo-free lenses is crucial for fair assessment. In other places, how many points the Huskies have allowed this season and where that ranks with past teams is being pointed at to say the defense is better. Or, Saturday night, the fact that Washington scored the most points of any team against Arizona State since Herb Sendek has been coaching there was at times being touted. Point totals are essentially meaningless when not discussed in the context of tempo. Washington allows fewer points because it plays fewer possessions. Arizona State allows more points this season because of a complete system overhaul that has almost doubled the tempo it plays at. So, of course, there will be many more possessions and points than when the Sun Devils did everything they could to keep the game in the 40s.
> Washington plays five of its final nine at home. It’s off to the LA schools next week before the Oregon schools visit Seattle. The Huskies are in a two-way tie for fourth place in the conference with Cal.
|Percentages||.638||.632||.500||Team Rebounds: 3|
|S. Kemp, Jr.||24||9-14||0-0||0-0||3||6||0||0||0||0||1||18|
|Percentages||.529||.231||.955||Team Rebounds: 3|