Washington hadn’t played a game with a final margin of more than 7 points either way in since December 5th in a 14-point win over Montana State. They were due for a stress-free contest. It didn’t look like things were headed that way for the first 30 minutes but Washington used a 13-0 run in the 2nd half to leave ASU in the dust on the way to a 82-67 victory over the previously undefeated in Pac-12 play Sun Devils. Sahvir Wheeler led the way with 24 points and 8 assists to help the Dawgs improve to 10-6 (2-3) on the year.
Each team started the game by hitting a 3-pointer on their first possession with Keion Brooks Jr. getting the Huskies going after winning the opening tip. Moses Wood helped the Dawgs start out 2/2 from deep a few minutes later and got Washington out to a 10-5 lead at the first commercial break.
Braxton Meah played his best defense of the season in the first half with a pair of nice blocks. Wilhelm Breidenbach entered the to relieve him and ASU instantly attacked the glass with a pair of layups to cut the Husky lead down to a single possession.
Washington’s stars made some nice offensive plays to keep the Sun Devils at bay. Keion Brooks Jr. drove into the paint and let two defenders fly over him before sinking the and-1 layup(but missing his free throw again). Sahvir Wheeler’s outside shot has been a train wreck so far this season but he made both of his attempts from deep to give the Dawgs a 26-19 advantage with 6:40 left in the half.
Turnovers kept Arizona State in the game though. Paul Mulcahy floated a pass to Breidenbach on the perimeter and ASU’s 7-footer stepped in front to intercept it. Mulcahy had not shot at catching up but reached in anyways to allow an and-1 dunk. The Sun Devils pushed the pace on UW’s 8 first half turnovers and were able to get to the free throw line 12 times in the first period with an 8-0 points off turnover advantage.
Moses Wood knocked down a corner 3 in the final minute but missed another attempt just before the buzzer that would’ve put the Huskies in front. Instead, the Dawgs trailed at the half 34-33. Wheeler led all players in both points and assists with 10 and 3 respectively.
Coming out of the break Keion Brooks Jr. had a nice bounce entry pass to Braxton Meah who backed his man under the basket and then viciously dunked on his face. He tried the same move a few possessions later but this time ASU saw it coming and picked it off for an easy fastbreak dunk. Sahvir Wheeler continued his miraculous shooting luck, banking in a 3-point shot that tied the game at 38 with 17:37 remaining.
Neither team could get much of an advantage for several minutes. Turnovers continued to kill Washington but ASU struggled to score in the half court to keep the Dawgs in the game. Over the next 6 minutes, only once did either team lead by more than 2 points when Washington briefly went up 47-43 before ASU scored on the next possession.
Adam Miller stepped into a very deep 3-pointer to put Arizona State in front at 50-49 and that’s when Washington finally made their big run. The Sun Devils missed shot after shot while the Huskies started to find a bit of an offensive rhythm. Sahvir Wheeler pulled up for his 4th three-pointer of the game on 4 attempts to extend UW’s run out to 11-0. Wheeler and Brooks had a miscommunication that gave ASU a free and-1 layup but Koren Johnson answered with a 5-0 run of his own to help UW to a 18-3 run over 5 and a half minutes.
Arizona State tried to foul to get back in the game and was able to get Wheeler to miss the front end of a 1-and-1 and Keion Brooks Jr. missed a pair of free throws to open the door just a crack. Wheeler quickly closed it though going 5/5 rom the 3-point line as the shot clock wound down to put the Huskies up 75-60 with 2:30 remaining.
Washington badly needed a win to help make up for dropping an extremely winnable home game to Oregon last week. Despite still playing without Franck Kepnang, the Huskies dominated the second half on the backs of two sources that have been missing this season. The first is Sahvir Wheeler’s outside shooting. I can’t look it up but I have to imagine a 5/5 night from deep for someone shooting 18% from deep has to be close to a record.
The second is a reinvigorated Braxton Meah. He played his best game of the season with 10 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks. It helped that Keion Brooks Jr. looked to get the ball to Meah in advantageous positions and had 3 assists on Meah baskets. It’s clear that Sahvir Wheeler never looks in his direction but Brooks is willing to trust Meah a little more and was rewarded for it.
Wheeler’s hot outside shooting certainly contributed but the Huskies finished shooting over 50% from deep as Keion Brooks Jr. went 3/4 and Moses Wood was 4/10. That made up for the points off turnover differential and a substantial free throw advantage in ASU’s favor up until they started intentionally fouling once down double digits. It’s worth noting that Keion Brooks Jr. once again struggled at the line going 3/7 which could’ve cost the Huskies the game had it been closer.
Washington will play its next 3 games on the road in California going to UCLA on Sunday and then the Bay Area schools next week. The Bruins are coming off a historic 46-point loss against Utah earlier tonight, their worst since 1997.