Huskies Get Stuck On Way To Game, Stay Stuck In It
Feb. 9, 2012
By Gregg Bell
EUGENE, Ore. - First the Huskies got stuck on their team bus in massive traffic, shortening their pregame.
They never did get un-stuck in Duck Town.
The previously surging Dawgs thudded back into a first-place tie in the Pac-12 by falling behind 8-0, then by 20, then by 27 amid an unsightly mix of missed free throws, missed layups, missed foul shots and missed defensive assignments.
That added up to an 82-57 loss to hot-shooting Oregon at smug Matthew Knight Arena Thursday night.
Washington (16-8, 9-3 Pac-10) allowed Oregon to shoot 56 percent, including 48 percent from 3-point range. The Huskies also tied their season-low in points scored.
That's why they are back in a first-place tie with California in the league, with Cal owning a win over UW in their only regular-season meeting. The Huskies and Bears are one game up on Colorado, Arizona and Oregon.
"Three weeks from now if we bounce back we can look at this as a bad exam. Throw it out," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said, after his team's first loss in six games and just its third in the last 14. "Just very poor.
"I just hope it doesn't cost us anything for the postseason."
The answer to ensure it doesn't must begin Sunday at 2:30 p.m. against Oregon State (15-9, 5-7). The Beavers will be in a bad mood after their home loss Thursday to Washington State.
But their mood can't be as foul as Washington's, not after this clunker in which the leaders of the conference were never even competitive.
Credit the Huskies for owning up afterward to not showing up. And for the resolve that was evident on the late-night bus ride to Corvallis that their latest bounce back will start Sunday.
"I didn't see us falling flat on our face and doing such a poor job of executing," Romar said. "The missed shots, the missed layups, that wasn't the issue. The issue was we were negligent on the defensive end."
The Huskies, who had won three straight on the road, were denied their first 10-2 start in the conference since 2005.
They actually never had a chance for that.
Tony Wroten had 14 points and four assists against Oregon's changing defenses to lead Washington. C.J. Wilcox had 10 points. But they combined to shoot just 8 for 23. They each have leg injuries that will benefit from the extra day off between games down here this weekend.
Terrence Ross, who went to high school in Portland, made just 4 of 12 shots. He got taunted all night from the Ducks' student section, which didn't know he is actually from Vancouver, Wash., and commuted across the Columbia River into Oregon for high school.
The Huskies shot just 36 percent, including 2 for 16 from 3-point range, and had trouble in half-court offense all night. Oregon had a 20-6 edge on points off turnovers, with UW committing 13 of those.
"We just didn't come to play," Wroten said. "We just got embarrassed.
"We are tied for first right now with Cal. We've got to keep climbing."
Garrett Sim made his first five shots, three from 3-point range, as the Huskies failed to step out to meet his open looks during the decisive early minutes. Sim finished with 13 points.
Carlos Emory scored a career-high 16 off the bench for Oregon (17-7, 8-4), which often roamed in the lane as freely as Ducks in a bird sanctuary. Oregon ended the rout with a series of highlight-reel dunks to please the gloating home crowd.
UW had beaten the Ducks 76-60 in one of its better defensive games this season New Year's Eve at Alaska Airlines Arena. That was New Year's Eve 2011.
It only seemed eons ago.
Absolutely nothing went right for the Huskies from the time they left their hotel an hour and 50 minutes before tipoff. They were 45 minutes late arriving at the arena because of a traffic fatality and the resulting tie up. The accident closed an adjacent highway near their hotel and stopped traffic on all roads around it.
While the bus just sat stopped on the highway for 30 minutes, players already in game jerseys and shorts were instructed to change into their game shoes.
"I feel like I'm back in high school," one said.
Instead of arriving at 6:30, as is their custom for an 8 p.m. tipoff, the Huskies pulled in at 7:10. Yet Romar and his players did not use that as an excuse for their decisively slow start.
"I do believe in excuses if it's a legitimate excuse," Romar said. "I can't claim that one."
As bad as the defense was, Washington also missed five layups, threw up four air balls, shot 30 percent from the field and was 5 for 13 from the foul line in the truly horrid first half. Small wonder the Huskies trailed 49-26 at the break, after a tip in by Emory just before the buzzer. That had the Ducks doing leaping chest bumps at midcourt before heading to their locker room.
Romar spent the early part of the first half maintaining encouragement with claps. Over the last half of it, he was stomping his foot into Oregon's wacky, tree-filled floor in frustration.
"Man, I thought we were past (nights like) this," said senior captain Darnell Gant, who finished with four points on 2-for-8 shooting in 20 minutes. "Obviously we need to come out with a sense of urgency ... (I've) just got to get guys motivated early.
"I thought everyone would be motivated early by what's at stake, but we just didn't start out right."
Ultimately, the best thing for Washington about this night was that it ended.
That, plus the perspective the Huskies had that the Pac-12 regular-season championship will not be decided on a lost night in early February in Eugene.
"If we can bounce back, we'll be fine. We're still in first place," Romar said.
"This loss didn't put us in last place."