The Huskies entered today's game against Stanford in must-win mode, needing to make a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament in order to work their way back into consideration for the NCAA tournament. I don't think Huskies fans could've asked for a better first round performance from their team, as they cruised to a dominant 91-68 victory over the Cardinal Wednesday, their first victory in the Pac-12 tournament since 2013. Though this one officially endedwhen the final buzzer sounded in the second, the Huskies sealed this one up in the first half. They jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first three minutes, eventually extending their lead to 24-5. Though the Cardinal used a seven point run to cut the Huskies lead to 12 that was the closest the Cardinal would get all day. The Huskies clamped down defensively to end the half, forcing Stanford to turn the ball over five consecutive times to end the half.
The second half served for the Huskies to simply pad their stats and extend their lead. Some of that stat padding came from Malik Dime, who recorded three blocks today, which gave him 85 blocks on the season, good for the all-time single season record in Huskies history. The junior forward also recorded a double-double, racking up 11 points and 10 rebounds. Dejounte Murray led with a game-high 25 points, as he was able to carve into Stanford's 2-3 zone all game, using an array of floaters, pull-up and three-point jumpers. Marquese Chriss also had a big game, as he added 18 points and 10 rebounds. He had his share of highlights dunks and shots and also added two threes.
The story of the game was the Huskies defense and their three-point shooting. They held the Cardinal to 29.1% shooting in the first half, using their length and pinpoint backline rotations to stifle Johnny Dawkins' team. The Huskies also seemingly couldn't miss from deep, knocking seven of their 13 threes in the first half, though they failed to knock down a deep ball in the second half.
If there was any cause for concern today it was the Huskies inability to knock down foul shots. They only managed to hit 61% (22-36) of their foul shots. Another interesting development was the fact that Romar did not feel comfortable clearing his bench until the final minute, despite leading by at least 20 for the entire second half. Though, after the near disaster that was the end of the Washington State game, I can't blame him for keeping the starters in as long as he did.
With the win the Huskies will take on the top seed Oregon Ducks at noon tomorrow.