Despite turning the ball over 18 times and occasionally playing horrendous transition defense, the Huskies got off to a hot start in the second half and took a lead which, though never commanding, was enough to keep the Beavers at bay. The difference between last night's game and other games of late was the C.J. Wilcox was on. He attacked the basket early for some easy scores, got his first two in and from there he was his normal self. Not the on-fire-can't-miss-burn-the-house-down C.J. he has been at times, but steady. He shot like we expect him to, and played some great defense at times too, and the whole team seemed more relaxed as a result.
The player who this may have had the biggest impact on was Abdul Gaddy. Quietly, Gaddy controlled the flow of the game, and at times dominated it, without ever really shooting the ball. I suspect that part of this was that since the rest of the team was shooting well, he felt no pressure to take anything upon himself, and simply allowed the game to come to him and put himself into the role of initiator and distributor, as he should be. He accumulated 9 assists and 4 points on just three shots, and it should be noted that his only miss was on a tip jam attempt that, if he had made it, would have been the dunk of the day/month/year, and been better than anything in the dunk contest.
With any luck, that will be the last time we as Husky fans ever have to see Joe Burton. As much as he does to hurt the Beavers by trying to be a 300 pound point guard at times and taking some erratic shots, he also seems to play his best against UW. Tonight he had a modest 10 points and 5 rebounds, but he also drew a flagrant I on Aziz N'Diaye when he dropped to the ground as if he'd been shot when Aziz put his arm on Burton's upper chest. Good riddance.
The surprise of the game had to be Jernard Jarreau, who was very effective. He scored 8 points on just 5 shots, and pulled down 7 rebounds. If he can be that kind of a player more consistently, it would be a great help to this team going forward. There are still concerns about his lack of strength (watching him try to box out Joe Burton on a free throw was borderline comical), but he's talented enough that he can out-small the bigs, and he's tall enough that he can out-big the smalls.
N'Diaye played one of his worst games of the year, with just 5 points and 4 rebounds, while turning the ball over 6 times. But ultimately, the play of Jarreau and Sean Kemp Jr. and Desmond Simmons combined to replace the production lost from Aziz's performance, and a little more too. The younger guys played very well on the whole.
Ideally, the Huskies can carry this over to their next game: on the road at Arizona.