After a surprisingly tight slugfest last night on the lower Husky campus, Isaiah Thomas and freshman Terrence Ross dropped the throttle with seven minutes left and the UW basketball machine left the Oregon Ducks in the dust.
With Duck football fans celebrating and heading to Glendale in mass, things are not looking as rosy for the "deep in the woods" 0-3 basketball team.
Dressed ironically presentable for an Oregon team, the Ducks managed to hang with the Dawgs half ways through the second half. But by the time it was over, it appeared the Huskies had mutilated this upstart Oregon squad, and yet truth-be-told this game was disturbingly close.
Former Sonic stud announcer Kevin Calabro and equally stud former coach Lenny Wilkens called the game, and it felt special, and almost like a taunt to David Stern and the flat-topped punk that ripped off the NBA team.
Missing on the Husky squad was recently injured guard Abdul Gaddy, who ripped up his knee in practice and is out for the season.
The Huskies started the game with a 7-0 run as Oregon stayed back in their zone defense, but with sharp passes and quick looks down under, it proved to be a bit ineffective for the Ducks.
Oregon took a time out and re-entered with “man on man” defense, and things immediately went better as lanes were suddenly jammed and the cold Huskies missed from the outside. Several minutes later it was a scant 11-7 lead for the Dawgs. The Ducks went to a harassing full-court press, but quick Isaiah Thomas passes to a wide open Darnell Gant, the Huskies fended off it off.
But the tempo of the game had been set, and Oregon managed to hang around with fast breaks and long passes.
The Huskies jumped out to a 22-13 lead with a couple nice three-pointers from blistering hot Terrence Ross with 11 minutes left in the half, but when Oregon went back to their zone defense, the Huskies again struggled as the Ducks cut the lead back down to 24-21.
And they cut it further when the Dawg’s Bryan-Amaning missed an easy layup and the Ducks came roaring back for a quick three.
With five minutes left, the Ducks had the ball and were down only 26-24. For a couple minutes teams traded turnovers and missed layins.
Oregon finally broke the impasse to get within a single point at 28-27. The Huskies appeared stunned and a bit annoyed, yet still remained sluggish and ineffective as they attempted to beat the zone with deep passes in both corners.
Fortunately freshman Terrance Ross, awarded more minutes from the Gaddy injury, was just beginning to hit his stride. But with two minutes left in the half it was a minuscule 31-29 Husky lead that was to get smaller yet.
Lenny Wilkens lectured viewers at home how unwise it was to let a lightweight team like Oregon hang around. With the game tied at 31 with 2-1/2 minutes left, perhaps this was where UW Coach Lorenzo Romar most missed the “calming” influence of Gaddy?
Still the Huskies demonstrated why they are favored to win the Pac-10, as they managed a spurt with six quick points on several fast breaks by Terrance Ross and Thomas to bolt out 37-31.
At the break Ross's 11 points had kept the Huskies ahead, while junior teammate Scott Suggs six didn't hurt either. But it was too close, and an agitated Coach Romar pounded that point home at halftime, both to sideline reporters and in the locker room.
As the second half opened with a Husky 39-33 lead, it was more of the same. Oregon’s various mixed zones had the Huskies guessing and making uncharacteristic turnovers.
When the Ducks nailed a quick three to cut the lead to 39-35, fans at Bank America Arena (fondly known as Hec Ed to the rest of the world) were getting a bit nervous. Especially when Oregon’s senior forward Joevan Catron hit a another three to cut it to 41-40 with 18 minutes left.
Standing at a brutish 6'6” and 245 pounds, Catron represented the bulk of the size-challenged Oregon front line. The big brute came right back with a nifty spin move on the left side to give the Ducks a surprising 42-41 lead on free throws, and murmuring filled the arena.
Catron, with 14 points and eight rebounds at this point in the game, was giving the Huskies fits down under. And when Oregon’s guard John Lloyd nailed a long three pointer from the right side of the key, they Ducks had a 47-46 lead.
Both Husky fans and the team looked downright timid, in a "deer in the headlights" kind of way.
But slowly the Husky defense began to tighten, and after several minutes of sloppy ugly play with nobody scoring, time was called with 15 minutes left in the game. That seemed to give the Huskies new energy from that point forward.
Oregon got it down to a point again at 50-49, but the Dawg's "BA" got to the line for only the second and third Husky free throws of the night, missing one.
The green-clad Ducks fought back and tied it at 51, but when Isaiah Thomas nailed a three, the Huskies finally decided to take control.
The Ducks kept up with their zone, but things had changed for UW. Bryan-Armaning was loitering closer to the rim to pound home several missed long Husky shots, and the Huskies quickly jumped out with a 5-0 run.
And with 13 minutes left in the game, things really started to go the Dawg’s way. The Ducks tried to counter with a 2-3 zone, which briefly showed promise highlighted by a mere three point 56-53 UW lead. But several Husky fast breaks later the game became a track meet.
Several long full-court passes finished with quick lay-ins gave the Dawgs a 9-2 run in just over a minute, to make it 60-53.
Oregon took a time out to catch their breath, and afterwards Catron again wreaked havoc in the middle with four more points from the line. But the 23rd ranked Huskies seemed to be gaining confidence and sharpness, and had the Ducks looking like a team ready to fold.
By 9:38 left it was 62-55 Dawgs, and Catron was carrying Oregon on his back while the Huskies were unable to effectively cover him.
At that point the Ducks managed to slow things down with a lumbering half court game, and after both teams turned it over several times, two more minutes were burned.
Oregon called a time out trailing 64-57 with just over seven minutes left, but that only encouraged both the Husky crowd and team as things started to get louder and louder!
The Huskies went into a 2-3 zone of their own, and it was at this point that Terrance Ross started banging in three pointers from a mile away. The Ducks tried to withstand it, but the quickness of the Huskies led to more Duck turnovers, and after Oregon missed half a dozen lay-ins it was all but over.
UW built their lead to 12 points after several offensive rebounds with five minutes remaining, 71-59, and Oregon appeared to have given up.
The Husky zone did the damage, forcing the confused Ducks to cast off from too far away. The Huskies answered every onslaught with quick fast breaks, including one notable blocked shot on a Lloyd Oregon layup.
When Isaiah Thomas hit a runner to make it 75-59 with 3:48 left in the game, Husky fans knew this baby was in the bag.
Sideline FoxNW reporter Jen Mueller noted that Coach Romar was now somewhat settled down, unlike how he had been a few minutes earlier. And for good reason too, as the Huskies had vaulted out to a 16 point lead with three minutes left.
The Huskies finished the game with a run-the-clock down half court offense, and when Isaiah Thomas nailed another three and Terrance Ross hit an off-balance stumbler, the lead ballooned to 19 points at 82-63. And then to 84-63 when Thomas stole another errant Oregon pass and tomahawk jammed it home with the roaring crowd going nuts.
Terrence Ross finished with 25 sensational points, most from the outside, and fellow bench player teammate Scott Suggs had 13. The Dawg's depth won this game, demonstrating why they are picked to dominate the conference this year.
Football revenge for Husky fans? Naaa, Sark’s guys will likely take care of that next year. But it did feel good to pummel a school whose fans routinely behave like obnoxious boobs.
Still, in spite of the final, the game had an eerily deja-vu feeling to it, only with the school’s roles reversed from the football game of last month.
Like the Huskies had done, the Ducks hung around until late in the game and then it ended up with a score that misled into thinking it was a rout, but felt closer with the favored team sweating bullets for most of the contest.
The bottom line is this macho Husky basketball team is still undefeated in the Pac-10, played with a swagger that gave home fans confidence too, and fans felt a surge of payback.
But the Dawgs could have played better, and they'll need to play MUCH better when they travel down to central Hippiesville next month to visit Phil-Knight’s newly christened “pine tree” palace with the goofy looking floor!