A win is a win. Tulane faced its toughest test of the season in the Washington Huskies, but the Dawgs at home in front of the highest-attending crowd of the season (during winter break, no less) were too much for the Green Wave, who fell to the Huskies 66-57.
It started with a flurry. Jernard Jarreau was the best player on the floor in the first half. When the offense was run through him, there were easy baskets to be had at the rim for usual facilitator Nigel Williams-Goss and Shawn Kemp Jr. After the Huskies started with a 9-2 lead, things did begin to fall apart. Tulane put a lot of pressure on the Huskies defensively in an effort to force poor decisions and turnovers. It is what worked for Oklahoma in the second half of Saturday's game, and it forced Washington into 18 turnovers, its most yet this season.
Williams-Goss had three turnovers in the first half, and finished with four. Mike Anderson had four of his own, and Andrew Andrews had three. Post entry passes were not very crisp throughout the game, unless coming from the hands of Jarreau, who finished with a stat line of six points, seven rebounds and four assists. Each of those stats save one rebound came in the first half.
Tulane hung around until the Huskies were finally able to separate from their opponent in the final six minutes on the wings of Robert Upshaw. His shot-blocking was the main reason Washington walked out with the win. He altered shots, sent some packing and caused fear to strike the heart of any player who dared to step into his paint.
Dots to take from the game:
- Washington still has work to do. Tulane had 16 offensive rebounds. One tradeoff with Upshaw is that his man will be able to clean up the glass when Upshaw fails to block the shot, or merely alters it. Defenses have to rotate to help when a man is beat or picked out of a play, and Upshaw's teammates are going to have to learn to do the same thing when a shot goes up, boxing out his man and trusting someone to take theirs. The turnovers would be damning against a team like Arizona or Utah, but against Tulane the Huskies can get away with sloppiness.
- There was a little bit of a hangover from the Oklahoma game. It was a classic "trap game." Washington just went into Las Vegas and took down the No. 15 team in the nation in Oklahoma. It might have been a good thing for the Huskies. They may have learned they can't sleepwalk through teams, because they now have a target on their collective back as a top team.
- Andrew Andrews is struggling mightily. He went 1-8 against Oklahoma, and went 3-10 tonight (though he did hit his last three from the field). To begin the season, I believed he was breaking out of the mental mistake prone player he had been, but Andrews still makes too many errors and poor decisions to be the true complementary combo guard that Nigel WIlliams-Goss would work well with.
Go Dawgs! Follow Ben on Twitter! Merry Christmas!