Huskies Have Blast From Past -- UW Efficiently Dismantles Usc, Then Sets Sights On UCLA
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
When was the last time a Washington men's basketball team handled a Pac-10 opponent as efficiently as it did USC?
For Husky fans born after Ronald Reagan's presidency, it hadn't happened until last night. The Huskies' 94-72 victory over the Trojans before 4,758 at Edmundson Pavilion was their widest conference victory in eight years, since a 71-47 victory over USC in 1988.
It was the most points scored during Coach Bob Bender's 2 1/2-year tenure and the victory extended the Huskies' winning streak to five, Washington's fifth-longest streak since 1983.
Now as the Huskies (8-2) enter tomorrow night's game against 20th-ranked UCLA (8-3), they find themselves with a better record than the defending national-champion Bruins. When was the last time that happened? Perhaps back when Reagan was a Democrat?
The times are changing on Montlake, or at least the attitude is.
"I feel we all know each other well now and things are falling into place," said sophomore forward Mark Sanford, who scored 35 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
It'll come to a head when the Huskies and Bruins collide at 7 p.m. tomorrow, which is another change. Originally scheduled for 3 p.m., the game was moved to accommodate Prime Sports TV.
"I think we're ready to give them a good fight," Husky center Todd MacCulloch said. "In the past we've played well for 35 minutes or so, but (last night) we came as close as we have to playing well for a full game."
Bender called the game "by far our best performance of the year."
The UW offense shot 50 percent for the first time this season, 60.7 percent in the first half. The Huskies made eight of 12 three-pointers and committed just 16 turnovers. That kind of efficiency helped UW overcome being outrebounded 45-39 and allowing USC 15 offensive rebounds.
UCLA, which beat Washington State 78-73 in overtime last night, is bigger and more mobile inside than the Trojans.
"Coach Bender has stressed this week to move our feet more, get position on offense and don't make stupid fouls," said MacCulloch, who played seven minutes and had four fouls.
Against the Bruins, Bender said, "we have to be precise with what we do with our tempo."
The Huskies' tempo last night was downright upbeat.
"I think we can push it up the floor with anybody if we want to," Sanford said. "We may not have the height advantage or the athleticism, but we play within our chemistry, within our bounds."
Sanford had the formula in the first half, scoring 20 points to build a 44-29 lead. He hit outside (three three-pointers) and inside, often off alley-oop passes from Jamie Booker.
"It was the Sanford show," said USC Coach Charlie Parker. "He just took over."
Sanford and Jason Hamilton opened the second half with a dazzling combination. Hamilton stole the ball and laid it hard off the glass. Sanford followed with a slick slam for a 46-29 lead. The Huskies built their lead to 79-52 with 5:30 left.
Sanford said the key was keeping the team's focus on the Trojans.
"We're not skipping any teams," he said. "I mean, who are we to skip a team? We've had two losing seasons, so we're not looking past anybody. Now we're focusing on UCLA. We won, but we don't have a lot of time to celebrate."
Tomorrow's game is nearly sold out.
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