March 20, 2009
Portland, Ore. - Seven minutes into the fourth-seeded Washington Huskies' first NCAA tournament game in three years, they were lost. Six of their first nine shots had missed the mark and already four times they had turned it over.
Turner, whose 18 minutes were his second most in more than a month, immediately paid dividends. The 6-foot-4 guard from Texas drained a long two to cut Mississippi State's lead to two and then hit a running floater to tie it.
After the Bulldogs took the lead back and Washington tied it again, Turner took over. The man he subbed for and gave a breather to, Pondexter, nailed a baseline bank shot that was assisted by Turner. Then less than 20 seconds later it was Turner to Pondexter again, this time for a flush, pushing Washington's lead to four.
Turner then came off of a screen and nailed a three, followed up by another assist, this time to freshman Darnell Gant. The Huskies had a five point lead they would never relinquish.
MSU would get no closer than six the rest of the way.
Part of a highly touted freshman class that includes Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Isaiah Thomas and former Missouri Gatorade State Player of the Year Scott Suggs, Turner has averaged 13 minutes a game and 3.5 points this season. He saw his minutes decrease after a good start to the season, including just six minutes in the Pac-10 finale against Washington State.
But on this day, and on this big stage, Turner not only helped Washington build and maintain its lead, he helped get Pondexter going, assisting on the two big baskets as the junior poured in 15 first-half points.
Turner finished with seven points and three assists.
Following Washington's 71-58 win over Mississippi State the Huskies will turn their attention to a Saturday matchup with Purdue in the second round.
Purple clashing with the red seats at the Rose Garden?
With the large contingent of purple-clad fans and the face of one of their own (Brandon Roy) splashed all over town, the Rose Garden might as well be Washington's home away from home this weekend.
All of that adds up to the Rose Garden probably being the safest place in the state of Oregon to be a Washington Husky.
At several points during the game Washington players waived their arms at the crowd and the Husky faithful responded, standing and making the building louder than during any other game.
"It was like a home atmosphere out there," said senior Jon Brockman.