Pac 10 regular season champion Washington won its opening round game against Mississippi State in dominating fashion 71-58. The Bulldogs were unable to match up with the Huskies quickness out on the perimeter or their muscle on the inside. The Huskies were led by Quincy Pondexter with 23 points and Jon Brockman's 10 points and 14 rebounds. The story in this one was Washington's smothering defense which never let the Bulldogs get untracked the entire game.
Venoy Overton was a constant distraction for Mississippi State as he scrambled all over the floor forcing multiple MSU turnovers. Washington owned the perimeter in this one and the Bulldogs who are a good three point shooting team never really had room to set up that part of their game.
Quincy Pondexter had one his best games as a Husky. The junior from Fresno was a force inside with his smooth moves, shooting touch, and put backs. The combination of Pondexter, Brockman, and Matthew Bryan-Amaning neutralized the presence of MSU pivot Jarvis Varnado who sat out most of the first half in foul trouble. When he was in the game Brockman just dominated him completely.
Elston Turner came off the bench in the first half and contributed seven points and three assists. Depth like that helped Washington wear out Mississippi State as predicted. The Bulldogs were led by Barry Stewart and Phil Turner with eleven points each. MSU only shot 33% from the field and were only 5-20 from three point land. Washington only shot 43% form the field tonight but the game was won in the trenches by the blue collar Huskies.
It was a satisfying return for the tournament for Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar who returned after a two year absence. Washington performed his game plan to perfection tonight and he has to feel good about his teams chances going into the next round against Purdue. For the Huskies this was a team win and that is how you advance in this tournament.
Purdue beat a stubborn Northern Iowa team earlier today 61-56 to advance to play Washington. The Boilermakers match up well with Washington so expect a knock down drag out fight on Saturday.