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USC Hot Streak Carries Trojans Past Washington Huskies

USC rode an early hot streak to a wire-to-wire victory over UW.

Dunk by not Husky
Dunk by not Husky
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Washington weathered an extended first-half hot streak by the Trojans of Southern California to stick close for the majority of the game, but miscues and mental mistakes ultimately did in the Huskies, as they were unable to pull ahead of USC, who took the lead 61 seconds in, never to relinquish it.

USC led and controlled the game, and after garnering an 11-4 lead early in the first half, never allowed their deficit to fall any lower than six. Washington made some runs, usually after Lorenzo Romar called timeouts for his team. When he called the first team timeout for Washington, they trailed by 19: a 35-16 deficit that was growing.

Out of the timeout C.J. Wilcox hit a three-pointer, stole a pass and hit another three, being broken up only by an Omar Araby layup and an Abdul Gaddy jumper – the Gaddy jumper came off of Wilcox’s steal, but wasn’t assisted by Wilcox.

Momentum was shifting into Washington’s favor on the back of their best player. He was making plays defensively, hitting shots, and feeding his team’s energy. UW went into the half having cut their deficit to 11 on the back of a 14-5 run, of which zero points were scored in the paint, unless you consider one Desmond Simmons free throw line a point in the paint after he was fouled attempting a shot in the lane.

Despite USC hitting shots left and right, regardless whether there was a hand in the face of the shooter or not, UW was within spitting distance, even if you had to be in competition for world’s best loogie hocker to spit that far. I think there are actually world spitting competitions, somewhere. That is a gross thing to be good at, actually. "Hi, my name is Ben and I am really good at launching green bodily fluids at long distances. What is your name?" I bet that pick-up line gets really far.

The second half featured Washington clawing their way back into the game after falling further behind, pulling within six multiple times before ending up at the final margin, 71-60.

Scott Suggs caught fire in the second half, scoring all 16 of his points after the halftime break following a 0-3 shooting performance accompanied by two turnovers before halftime. Suggs pulled Washington close, scoring or assisting on 16 of their final 17 points, but it wasn’t enough, as USC never let their lead falter.

A few quick dots:

  • As much as I get after Scott Suggs for his poor shot selection, he was remarkably efficient in the second half of the game. He took smart shots for the most part, and knocked them down.

    He can be a very, very good shooter, when he is able to get clean looks at the rim as he "rises up" – I put it in quotes because he doesn’t jump very high on his jumper, which is very atypical of a Lorenzo Romar coached player, as Isaiah Thomas, Darnell Gant and Abdul Gaddy all began to jump higher and higher as their jumpers progressed under his tutelage.

    Suggs was efficient by taking smart shots within the scope of the offense. When he gets cold is when he starts to take heavily contested mid-range jumpers and threes early in the shot clock. He took one very strongly contested jumper as the shot clock expired, but he knocked it down and coolly jogged to the other end. He is a skilled player, but has to stay within himself. He tries too often to do more than he is capable of, and that is what gets him in trouble, and is a large part of why he is averaging two turnovers per game after his previous high was 1.1, his junior year.

  • Gaddy is slowly, and belatedly, developing into a vocal leader of sorts, on the court. His body language in the last pair of games was much improved. He has been cheering on teammates, telling them where to go, and seeming to be more of a floor general.

    Gaddy is a good orchestrator of a half-court offense, where he can use high screens along with his strength and deceptiveness to get to the rim, or find cutters. Where he often struggles is on the fast break and in semi-transition, or in the second fast break as Steve Kerr called it tonight.

    He finished tied for the team lead in assists with four, and three of the four came within a half-court or inbounds set. The fourth came from hitting Scott Suggs on the wing from midcourt, in transition.

  • The perfect foil to Gaddy is actually his backup, Andrew Andrews. Andrews has the speed and quickness Gaddy lacks, but doesn’t have the strength or deceptiveness that Gaddy relies on. Andrews uses his quickness to get into the lane and fine shooters or to explode to the rim.

    Last year I did a contrast of Gaddy and Tony Wroten, who were even more opposites than Andrews and Gaddy. Again, Andrews relies on quickness with a little bit of deception, while Gaddy relies on strength and hesitation.

    Andrews is the better point guard in transition and the second fast break, as his explosiveness allows him to hit smaller lanes and forces the defense to collapse harder on him, thus leaving more room open for shooters and backdoor cuts. He doesn’t have the vision Gaddy has/had but gets by using other means.

    It will be interesting seeing the dynamic between he and Nigel Williams-Goss next season, as Williams-Goss has been touted as a pure point guard, yet has been scoring, and scoring a lot for his high school this year, and been less of a distributor than advertised. Maybe he is just doing what his team needs, but it is something to watch next season.

  • Early in the game, C.J. Wilcox didn’t get many touches; actually he never had a touch in the halfcourt until UW was on their fifth possession. He was having the ball denied early, and Washington couldn’t run their called sets, so their offense sputtered early, badly.

    Later, towards the end of the half, Washington ran sets that specifically ran Wilcox off of several screens, oftentimes staggered screens and down-screens in lieu of the typical double screens along the baseline. This allowed Wilcox to get free more often and get shots up. He shot 2-4 from deep for the game, with both of his makes coming late in the first half.

    Even when he wasn’t making his threes, the constant movement he provided allowed for other players to make plays, and was a big factor in Suggs having a great second half. The Trojan defenders focused in on Wilcox and Suggs was able to slip through the cracks created to get his points.

    Wilcox was quietly still Washington’s best player, tonight, even if the points don’t show it. He had six steals and seven rebounds to pair with his eight points on seven shots. He also had three assists versus zero turnovers

  • 4-14 FREE throws. 13 turnovers. The last time Washington had 13 or fewer turnovers was twenty-four days ago, against Colorado. To describe the sort of pain it is like to watch the Huskies turn the ball over that much, I turn you to Peter Griffin.