Jan. 12, 2006
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Washington Huskies all agreed they were in a must-win situation, despite it being early in the Pac-10 season. Consecutive conference losses will do that.
The 13th-ranked Huskies got back on track Thursday night with an 86-77 victory over Southern California as Brandon Roy had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and Bobby Jones got 16 of his 22 points in the second half.
"We already knew coming into the game that our backs were against the wall," Jones said. "I mean, we were 1-2 in conference. You don't want to start off conference play slow, then put yourself in a corner and force yourself to win five or six in a row. So it was a huge game."
The Huskies (13-2, 2-2) never trailed despite committing 28 turnovers. A 46-24 rebounding advantage offset the sloppiness and the Huskies shot 50.8 percent from the field against a USC defense that allowed both Arizona and Arizona State to shoot over 50 percent last week.
Washington has beaten USC in six of the last seven meetings after losing seven straight to the Trojans (11-5, 2-3). It was only the second game the Huskies have played outside Seattle this season. The other was 35 miles down the freeway at the Anaheim Pond, where they beat New Mexico in the John Wooden Classic on Dec. 10.
The Trojans have lost four straight to Washington by a total of 75 points.
Southern Cal's Gabe Pruitt scored all of his 21 points in the second half on 6-for-20 shooting after going 0-for-6 from the field in the opening half.
"I probably felt a little too anxious in the first half. I was thinking too much and I didn't feel like I normally shoot," said Pruitt, whose six field goals all were 3-pointers. "Every time I shot it, they got a hand on me. The refs didn't see it and I tried to let them know. But I had to keep playing through it. In the second half, I just let the game flow to me and tried to do a better job of going off screens."
Loderick Stewart had 16 points and Nick Young added 15 for USC, which nearly erased a 19-point deficit. The Huskies, whose 90-point average entering the game led the nation, opened with a 25-6 run and held USC without a field goal over the first 4 1/2 minutes.
"Their athleticism was tremendous. We had no chance to rebound tonight," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "We forced 28 turnovers, but we weren't able to finish shots in transition. I think 76 points is enough to win a college basketball game, but we couldn't stop them."
Pruitt made his first basket 26 seconds into the second half, a 3-pointer. He had a four-point play less than a minute later, draining another 3 from the right corner and converting the ensuing free throw after getting fouled by Jones. That sliced Washington's margin to 47-39 after Washington led by 13 at intermission.
"Gabe Pruitt was phenomenal in the second half and we knew he was capable of performing that way," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "I've seen him score 20 in a half a couple of times. The Trojans are a very scrappy team and they definitely played with an identity. I cringed when I heard we had 28 turnovers, but the rebounding kind of offset it little bit."
The Huskies got the lead back up to 14 before Pruitt hit consecutive 3s. He would have had a third, but it was waved off because of an offensive foul by Ryan Francis near the basket with 9:36 left.
"I thought that was a momentum change right there," Pruitt said. "I didn't really see the foul, but that probably would have given us an extra boost."
Francis fouled out 73 seconds later. Pruitt's sixth 3-pointer of the half got USC within 70-66 with 7:45 to go, and the Trojans got as close as 73-70 on Dwayne Shackleford's two free throws with 5:44 left. But they made some costly turnovers down the stretch. The Huskies put it away with Mike Jensen's 3-pointer and a dunk by Jones which gave them an 81-72 lead with 4:01 to play.