Scott Suggs and Lorenzo Romar sat down for a conversation following the blowout loss to Arizona.
Romar explained to Suggs that the fifth-year senior had to play with more intensity. After all, Suggs had just played 30 minutes and collected zero — zero — rebounds.
In the two games since, Suggs has been hot. He’s 13 for 23 from the floor (56.5 percent) and a radiant 9 for 14 from behind the 3-point line (64.3 percent) in back-to-back wins.
He scored 23, one short of his career-high, Sunday afternoon in Washington’s 72-68 win over Washington State. Suggs needed just 10 shots to get there. Eight of his 10 were 3-point attempts and a career-high tying five went down.
C.J. Wilcox also scored 23. No one else was in double-figures for Washington, though Abdul Gaddy had a solid game with nine points and six assists against two turnovers.
A reaction to the past couple games, Washington has won three of four with the lone loss being the no-show effort at Arizona, may be to think the Huskies are beginning to play like they did at the start of the conference season. They’re getting there.
Washington started 4-0 and that run was predicated on defense. The Cougars shot 61.1 percent in the first half Sunday before regressing to 44 percent in the second half. Arizona State shot 47.9 percent when the Huskies won in Tempe. Oregon State shot 33.9 percent in the Huskies’ 72-62 home win.
So, the defense is getting better.
Suggs’ emergence on the other end from a season-long struggle will certainly help, if it’s maintained. Even if he continues to put up Allan Houston-esque scoring lines — points and little else — it would be benefit to C.J. Wilcox and a Huskies team that has had continued problems scoring.
Washington State mixed man and zone defenses Sunday, and Washington handled it well. The Huskies shot 53.3 percent for the game. They shot 63 percent from the free-throw line, not good, though were 10 for 12 down the stretch was the game was still slightly in question.
Not that many watched Sunday’s win. The attendance was about average for this season, a total of 8,508, but that’s a low number for the Huskies when they host the Cougars.
It was the smallest home crowd for a Washington/Washington State game since 2004, when 9,055 showed up.
The paltry population snapped an eight-year run of home sellouts against the Cougars, who have lost nine in a row, and was the second-smallest crowd for the rivalry game since Lorenzo Romar became the Huskies’ head coach in the 2002-03 season. The lowest under Romar was 7,888 in his first season.
Some quick news, notes and quotes:
> Rough night for Aziz N’Diaye. His mother, Aminata, flew all the way from his home in Senegal to come see him for the first time on U.S. soil. She was seated front and center, in the first row of the Dawg Pack’s section.
N’Diaye had zero rebounds for the first time as a Husky. He played a season-low 13 minutes, his fewest since March 11, 2011. He also picked up a Flagrant I foul when he ran through a Brock Motum pick with a forearm leading the way. The forearm hit Motum in the throat, which, along with some showmanship, helped knock Motum to the ground. The Cougars turned that into a five-point possession.
> Wilcox was 7 for 14 for his 23 points. He was just 1 for 5 from 3. He had a better rhythm early in this game than he had of late. Wilcox practiced Friday and Saturday after resting most of the week and previous weeks on non-game days in order to make sure the slight pain in his foot doesn’t turn into a problem.
An interesting thing about Wilcox is his propensity to finish around the rim with his left hand despite shooting jumpers with his right. Turns out, he was born left-handed. Growing up, his dad made him shoot jumpers from both sides and choose a preference. Wilcox said he made more with the right, so he went with that. He still does several daily tasks with his left.
> Andrew Andrews had a quiet game of five points and three rebounds. More important, he left Hec Ed with a walking boot on his left foot. No word from the school on the reason for the boot.
> The Cougars led by seven in the first half and eight early in the second. But, as they have done all season, Washington State detonated its chances at a win down the stretch with turnovers and cold shooting.
> Washington missed 10 free throws, otherwise the game wouldn’t have been as close. The Cougars scored with one second remaining after Desmond Simmons missed two free throws to make the game appear tighter than it was in the last couple minutes.
> Simmons did a good job on Brock Motum once again. He worked all night to deny Motum touches after the Australian scorer hit the first two baskets of the game on Shawn Kemp Jr. Motum finished a solid 6 for 10 for 18 points. The Huskies were just glad he didn’t drop 40 on them.
> A huge play in the game was Gaddy’s second steal, which came with 3:06 to go in the half and Washington up 62-57. Couple others of note were shot-clock buzzer-beaters by Simmons on the left baseline in the second half and Suggs with a corner 3 in the first half.
> Romar said he would still like to see Washington run more. Just four fastbreak points Sunday. Though, Washington did score 25 points off 18 Washington State turnovers. The Cougars had zero fastbreak points.
> This week: USC at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and UCLA at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Both are hot. The duo has combined to win 13 of its last 16 games.
|Percentages||.512||.429||.833||Team Rebounds: 2|
|S. Kemp, Jr.||18||1-2||0-0||2-2||2||2||0||3||0||1||1||4|
|Percentages||.533||.412||.630||Team Rebounds: 3|