Washington faced a tough test to open up Pac-12 play on the road against USC but they were more than up to the test with an 88-81 victory. It was the UW offense that carried the day as the Dawgs shot a blistering 67.3% from the field.
The Huskies started out the night with a pair of turnovers but quickly stabilized and forced an early timeout from USC head coach Andy Enfield on consecutive Sam Timmins dunks. But USC responded coming out of the timeout and used a press and zone on defense to make Washington uncomfortable and go up 19-9. Hameir Wright entered the game and immediately made an impact with a 3-pointer and a very nifty layup where he went from the 3-point line to the rim in 2 steps.
A big part of UW getting back in the game was Noah Dickerson’s ability to draw fouls. Both USC starting big men had 2 within the first 10 minutes and it hurt the Trojans on both ends of the floor. The other factor was a spectacular resurgence from Dominic Green. He was on fire at the end of the Bethune-Cookman blowout but then didn’t get into the game against Montana. However, that shooting apparently carried over anyways as he hit his first 4 shots including three 3-pointers and a foul line jumper for 11 in the first half. The Huskies led 41-35 at the end of the half.
The entire 2nd half resulted in both teams trading baskets as neither defense could do much to stop the other. Between the end of the 1st half and the start of the second the Huskies went on an incredible stretch where they hit 15 of 18 shots.
While the Huskies got USC in foul trouble in the 1st half the refs tried to go the other way in the 2nd. At one point it was 8 fouls against UW and just 2 against USC. However, the Trojans missed a pair of front ends on one-and-ones which allowed Washington to maintain an 8-12 point lead.
Jaylen Nowell took off in the 2nd half and made a variety of drives, floaters, and pull up jumpers. Dominic Green’s only miss was on a desperation heave at the end of the shot clock and he hit an additional 3-pointer plus a ridiculous up and under circus shot layup. USC got the ball inside and dunked it on seemingly every possession but couldn’t get a stop and couldn’t hit an outside shot. They ended the night just 3/20 from beyond the arc. The Trojans entered the night shooting 41% from outside which was good for 20th in the country.
In the last few minutes with the lead hanging around 10 points the Huskies were able to beat the press on consecutive possessions. Things looked like they might fall apart when Matisse Thybulle missed the front end of a one-and-one as well as turned the ball over twice in the final minute but it didn’t matter and the Dawgs held on. Noah Dickerson finished with 17 points and 7 rebounds before fouling out while Green and Nowell each had 16. Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu combined for 50 points but the other 7 Trojans could only manage 31 between them.
This game shows that the Kansas win wasn’t a complete fluke and should at the very least put the Huskies in the conversation as a potential bubble team. Not many schools in the country have a pair of wins as good as at Kansas and USC. UW moves up from 126th to 105th in the KenPom rankings with the win. Washington will take the court next on Sunday at UCLA in a 5p tipoff on Pac-12 Network.
- The Huskies gave it over to the Trojans with 34 seconds left in the half and were expecting to hold for the last shot. Instead Washington committed their 6th foul with 10 seconds left. Hopkins quickly called a timeout and inserted Nahziah Carter for David Crisp to improve the defense. Carter immediately stole the entry pass and went coast to coast for a layup to put the Huskies up 6 at halftime. That’s a quick heads up job and sign of a great coach to create an extra 2 points out of nowhere.
- I speculated in my game preview that the Huskies would play USC similar to Kansas and that’s exactly what they did. If USC got the ball in the middle with Chimezie Metu or Bennie Boatwright it was almost an automatic basket but they held on at the 3-point line. USC ended the 1st half just 2-10 from outside and finished 3-20.
- Noah Dickerson not only got the USC bigs in early foul trouble with his bruising play inside but also drew 3 charges during the course of the game which negated several USC baskets and helped keep the momentum in UW’s favor.
- I’ve given Dominic Green a hard time numerous times on this blog but he was the X-factor and the difference in this one. Credit where credit is due. He nailed four 3-pointers and hit one of the most difficult layups I’ve seen in a while. He essentially jumped from behind and to the left of the basket, gave it a finger roll to get enough spin and no looked it from the right side of the rim that kissed the glass and went straight through the hoop. If he has suddenly found his mojo it would be an amazing boon from an otherwise bad shooting Washington team.
- I haven’t had time to go back and check but I would guess that UW’s 20 assists are a record so far this season and that it isn’t particularly close. Six Huskies finished with multiple assists led by Jaylen Nowell with 6. This was the best ball movement the Huskies have had in a while and it was refreshing to see.
- The refs were pretty poor against both teams tonight. At least they didn’t completely take over the game by calling every little touch. The play Washington fans will be most upset about was when Jaylen Nowell drove for a highlight reel dunk and held onto the rim because he would’ve landed on a USC player and his momentum from the dunk would’ve carried him like jumping off a swing. But the refs called him for a technical and USC made 1⁄2 from the line.
- Foul shots easily could’ve sunk the Huskies in this one. They went just 6/11 from the line including Hameir Wright missing all 3 freebies getting fouled on a shot beyond the arc and Thybulle missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with 0:45 left. USC was 18/21 and those three misses came on the aforementioned technical as well as the aforementioned misses on the 1-and-1’s.
- It looked like there were almost as many Husky fans at the game as USC fans. The game was played concurrently with USC’s loss to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl and most of the students were gone on account of winter break.
You can follow me for all your UW Men’s Basketball news @UWDP_maxvroom