Washington's offense stalls if teams smother C.J. Wilcox
Utah's upset of Washington on Saturday shows how vulnerable offense has been this season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
UW @ Oregon State, 8:30 p.m., Pac-12
C.J. Wilcox launched an air ball from long range while Abdul Gaddy unintentionally banked in a three-pointer, which tells just about everything you need to know about Washington's offensive performance Saturday against Utah.
The run-and-gun days, when the Huskies ranked among the nation's best in scoring, have been replaced with a jump-shooting team that falters when Wilcox is bottled up.
It happened last month at Connecticut. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard managed just five points during a 2-for-12 shooting performance. It was a season-low scoring outing for Wilcox and Washington, which lost 61-53.
It happened again Saturday. Utah contained Wilcox, the Pac-12's leading scorer against conference opponents.
Essentially Utah committed two or three players to stop him, which left senior guards Scott Suggs and Gaddy open for outside shots. The duo combined for 17 points on 6-for-25 shooting, and Washington lost 74-65.
"There was always somebody in my lap the whole game," said Wilcox, who was scoreless in the first half and finished with 14 points.
"That was a little bit different," he said. "I don't know if they sagged off them as much, but they definitely wanted them to be the one that scored and generate the offense."
The defeat snapped a string of four consecutive wins, but Washington (12-6, 4-1 Pac-12) carries another streak into Wednesday's 8:30 p.m. game at Oregon State (10-8, 0-5).
The Huskies have been held to fewer than 70 points in each of the past seven games.
When asked what's wrong with the offense, Wilcox shrugged.
"I couldn't tell you," he said. "We're just not making shots. I don't know why. We've just got to get in the gym and shoot more shots, I guess, and get more of a rhythm going."
During 13 nonconference games, Washington averaged 70.9 points and shot 44.6 percent from the field and 36.4 percent on three-pointers.
In five league games, the Huskies are averaging 64.8 points. They're also shooting 41 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent behind the arc.
The shooting percentages have dropped for starters Suggs (44.7 to 31.7), Desmond Simmons (38.3 to 29.2) and Gaddy (44.6 to 26.1).
Gaddy believes there is an obvious remedy.
"Keep shooting and stay confident," he said. "People will always say if you're not making them, don't shoot them. But just as easily as you can go into a slump, you can get out of one. You can hit five in a row. Stay confident. Keep shooting no matter what. If you get a wide-open shot, take it."
Washington averages 69.2 points, on pace to finish with the lowest scoring average since coach Lorenzo Romar took over in 2002. The Huskies averaged 67.6 in 2000-01.
"We have a different team and a different (high-post) offense this year than we did last year," senior center Aziz N'Diaye said. "We're doing OK. It's gotten better, but we're not where we should be."
Washington has more balance offensively this season than last season, when it averaged 75.6 points.
Suggs (12.2 points per game), Gaddy (11.1) and N'Diaye (10.7) each average double digits behind Wilcox's 19.1. UW's reserves combine to average 16.4 points.
"C.J. is a proven scorer and we're just getting everyone else more comfortable taking shots and scoring," N'Diaye said. "We know we can't rely on him all the time. Everyone else has to step up."
Romar isn't worried as much about the offensive decline as he is about a defense that was shredded in its last outing. Utah shot 60.4 percent, a season high for a UW opponent.
Before Utah, Washington held the previous four opponents to 54, 60, 47 and 63 points.
"We cannot lose sight of what butters our bread," Romar said, knocking on table for emphasis. "Bottom line."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @percyallen
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