Men's Basketball | Huskies end year with blowout of Idaho St.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Washington Huskies rolled in for a last tuneup before Pac-10 play, and everything checked out fine as they put an 82-50 beating on Idaho State on Monday at Edmundson Pavilion.
The win came just 48 hours after UW rallied from a 16-point deficit to win at Louisiana State, and the combination of a possible letdown and possible lethargy from the trip had Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar concerned that his players might be a sluggish.
Instead, UW was in high gear from the start, taking a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes. And then, after a few hiccups let the Bengals stay in it for a little while, they put on the gas for a 19-3 run spanning the end of the first half and the beginning of the second to put it away for good.
"It would have been easy for our guys to say 'Hey, look, let's just get this done,' " Romar said. "But we didn't do that. We came out and did a good job."
The win was UW's fifth in a row, and gives the Huskies a 9-4 record heading into conference play, which begins Saturday with a visit from Washington State. The Cougars, No. 4 in the country, have beaten the Huskies five times in a row.
A month ago, when the Huskies were being blasted at Oklahoma State 96-71, few would have given UW a chance against the Cougars.
But UW has gone 5-1 since with the only loss a one-pointer at home against No. 13-ranked Pitt.
Romar doesn't think the record is a mirage, saying the team has improved in three areas — defense, taking care of the ball and shot selection.
"I feel a lot better than I felt a month ago," he said. "The operative word was progress after the Oklahoma State game, and from then to now, I think we've made progress in a lot of areas, and that's all we can ask for."
All seemed on display against the undermanned Bengals of the Big Sky Conference, who fell to 3-10, having also lost to UCLA, Washington State and Oregon State.
UW held ISU to 40.9 percent shooting as Tim Morris shut down leading scorer Matt Stucki, limiting him to three points.
"It's kind of like challenging your manhood," Morris said of getting the assignment on Stucki, who had averaged 15.8 points in his last six games. "Today it's between me and you, and I'm winning. That's how I take it."
UW had just 10 turnovers and got balanced scoring, led by Jon Brockman's 21 points — he also added 11 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double and eighth of the season — and 10 each from Morris, Venoy Overton and Justin Dentmon, who left the game briefly with a hip pointer but returned.
"I think we've made some pretty good strides the last month that will make things better in the Pac-10," Brockman said.
Romar said the team's identity has begun to crystallize since the Oklahoma State game.
"Kind of a picture has been painted all the more of what our team is like and who is supposed to do what," he said. "I think roles are a little more defined."
It helped that guard Ryan Appleby has returned after missing the first seven games with a thumb injury. "That gave us another scorer," Romar said, finding it no coincidence the team has played well since.
But now the Big Sky portion of the schedule is done (UW went 4-0), with the Cougars and that vexing losing streak lying in wait.
"I think if we do a great job on defense this week in practice and really zone in and get better on the defensive end, we'll have a good chance, since it's our home floor, to get a win," said Appleby. "Really, they've beaten us five times in a row. You almost throw the school rivalry out and say 'Look, this team, no matter who it is, has beaten us five straight times, and we need to get a win against them.' "
|IDAHO STATE 50|
Attendance: 9,543. Officials: Gregory Nixon, Don Tuggle, Scott Harris.
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