Thomas, Gaddy stand out in UW’s rout of Virginia
By Craig Yamada
The Huskies left the winter cold in Seattle and caught fire amidst the heat in Maui. Monday’s game might as well had been in Hec-Ed as the Huskies looked just as comfortable in Lahaina as they did at home. UW unleashed a barrage of three point field goals, tying a team record with 17 from beyond the arc. From top to bottom, the Huskies shot the ball with confidence and it resulted in a 106-63 blowout over the Cavaliers.
The game started with a fast-paced tempo from the opening tip off. Many were worried about Tony Bennett’s notorious nature of slowing down games in a half court set. In the first five minutes, the Cavaliers looked to milk the shot clock and work for a good shot. UW soon countered with high pressure man-to-man defense which forced Virginia into a lot of poor decisions. Those poor decisions manifested themselves into 17 turnovers for Virginia. Those turnovers led to easy buckets in transition and quickly got the game pace in UW’s favor.
Virginia guard Joe Harris was the lone bright spot for Virginia as he scored 19 points on 8-13 shooting. Heralded freshman guard KT Harrell also helped keep Virginia afloat with 14 points on 3-6 shooting. Harrell was able to get to the line early and often as he converted on 8-13 from the stripe. UW guards were able to keep their three point bomber Billy Barron from going off as he never seemed to establish any kind of rhythm offensively.
Isaiah Thomas led the charge from the start as he poured in 21 points on 8-12 shooting. Thomas was 4-6 from downtown. He was able to get into the lane at will and was fearless in taking the ball strong to the basket all night. His best move was a flashy up and under lay up he converted while being fouled. Thomas’ emotions were running high as he kissed his bicep after he made that basket and set the tone for the rest of the game. His floor leadership got UW off on the right foot and they sustained that swagger as the game went on.
Abdul Gaddy jumped out quickly to establish himself on a national stage. He opened the game with a smooth move to split the defense and scooped the ball in for an easy lay in. He also scored on a well-timed spin move in the post and went off the glass for an easy two. Gaddy also showed the nation how far his jump shot has come as he finished with 12 points on 6-9 shooting and a team-high five assists. ESPN’s Jay Bilas coined this as Gaddy’s “best game as a collegiate.” It is clear that Abdul has turned the corner as many UW fans had hoped he would.
Justin Holiday was the star on the defensive end. He forced countless turnovers and had six steals. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds to go along with his defensive masterpiece. Holiday did have some issues finishing some easy layups in transition, but was able to make good on those on subsequent possessions. With Holiday’s wingspan, he was able to work his way into every passing lane he was in the vicinity of. Holiday will continue to shine as he is flourishing in Romar’s high-pressure half court defense.
With Matthew Bryan-Amaning having picked up two quick foul calls, someone else had to step to the forefront for point production as he went to the bench. CJ Wilcox was that someone. Wilcox seemingly had a coming out party as he caught fire from not only beyond the arc, but also from the inside. Wilcox finished with a career-high 17 points on 6-9 shooting. He added two quick back-to-back long range bombs early in the first half. Later in the second half, he showcased his versatility as he drove the baseline in for a highlight-worthy jam which brought the UW crowd to its feet. Wilcox may have solidified more of the lion’s share of minutes for the first swingman position off the bench. With his size and athletic ability, he makes a strong case for Romar to play him at regular frequency.
Through all the great things UW showed us, none may have been more impressive than Aziz N’Diaye shooting 100 percent from the free throw line. N’Diaye went 4-for-4 from the stripe and looks to have a lot more rotation on his shot now. He also looked a lot more comfortable handling the ball in the post. He made a nice hook shot on the baseline with his back to the basket in the early going. He also kick-started UW’s early run with a one-handed slam via an assist from Venoy Overton. N’Diaye finished with eight points to go along with two rebounds. His defensive presence in the middle was undeniable as he altered the ball trajectory of each shot in the lane for Virginia. N’Diaye is fulfilling the belief that he is the missing piece to UW making that next step this year.
Terrence Ross was not shy in his first nationally televised game as he hoisted seven shots and converted on four of them. All four baskets made were from beyond the arc as Ross finished with 12 points. It was a nice debut for Ross on a national stage as he will look forward to facing off against former high school teammate Terrence Jones in Tuesday’s matchup against Kentucky.
Romar could not have scripted a better execution for Tuesday’s game plan as UW had their way with Virginia. After having watched the Stanford/Virginia game, it looked like UW did its homework in how to attack Virginia – beyond the arc. Look for a fast-paced shootout as UW squares off against Kentucky. UW will need to contain highly-touted freshmen Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and Jones in order to move on to the championship game. With all the offseason drama behind the game, UW fans could not be more excited.
-UW won the war of the rebounds as they reeled in 37 to Virginia’s 32.
-They were also finished with their highest free throw percentage of this season at nearly 70 percent from the stripe.
-Darnell Gant hit his first three pointer of the season, but still is struggling with his midrange jumper.
-Scott Suggs won the lion’s share of minutes tonight off the bench for the swingman position with 23, but was outproduced by both Ross and Wilcox in point production.
-Overton had a quiet night offensively, but played stellar defense and dished out four assists.