C.J. Wilcox helps Huskies break three-game losing streak
Junior guard breaks out of slump for 24 points
Seattle Times staff reporter
In the opening minutes of the Washington men's basketball team's 72-62 victory, you could tell this game was going to different for C.J. Wilcox.
On the Huskies' first offensive possession, the junior guard blew past Challe Barton and darted to the middle of the lane where he stopped, pivoted and elevated for a one-hand jumper that sailed over the Oregon State sophomore.
Minutes later, Wilcox sank another short jumper over Barton before connecting on a three-pointer from the corner.
Shots that rimmed out or fell short the past few weeks splashed through the net with regularity Saturday in front of 8,454 at Alaska Airlines Arena
Buoyed by their leading scorer breaking out of an eight-game shooting slump, the Huskies (14-12, 6-7 Pac-12) snapped a three-game losing streak and beat OSU for the first time in three tries.
When asked what was the difference in Wilcox this time as opposed to the previous games, UW coach Lorenzo Romar said smiling: "He made shots."
Wilcox, who finished with 24 points on 7-for-14 shooting, agreed for the most part.
"It's better than what it's been, but there's still shots that I usually make that still aren't going down," he said. "But I'll take it.
"The whole time I'm just trying to stay confident, knowing I'm going to make the next few in a row. Sometimes that doesn't happen. I was kind of on and off tonight and staying aggressive definitely helps."
Wilcox finished with three three-pointers and sank 7 of 8 free throws. He also had six rebounds and three blocks to offset five turnovers.
If not for their 19 turnovers — 13 in the first half — it might have been a perfect game for the Huskies.
They had more rebounds (41-28), more assists (16-11), more blocks (five to two), shot better from the field (50 percent to 33.9 percent) and were more accurate on free throws (73.7 percent to 70.4 percent).
Reserve guard Andrew Andrews scored 11 points, forward Shawn Kemp Jr. added 10 points and reserve forward Jernard Jarreau finished with seven rebounds and eight points.
It was arguably Washington's best game since it began the Pac-12 season with a 4-0 record.
"Because of our turnovers, the game was at least for me a very draining game," Romar said. "We never allowed ourselves to pull away.
"We gave them 19 points in the first half off of turnovers and they scored 34 in the first half. Aside from that, I thought that in the second half we really defended with exception in transition."
Washington trailed 34-32 at the break, but took control early in the second half by using a 14-3 run to build a 46-39 lead with 15:09 left.
The Huskies never trailed again, but OSU's Roberto Nelson cut their lead to one at 53-52 when he drained three free throws.
Nelson at the line was a common sight. He made 11 of 13 foul shots, but was 3 of 16 from the field. He finished with 19 points and Joe Burton had 10 for Oregon State, which fell to 13-13, 3-10.
The Huskies rebuilt their advantage to nine points at 63-54 with 3:49 left. The Beavers made one last push and cut Washington's lead to 63-57.
At that point, the game became a free-throw shooting contest and the Huskies made nine of their final 10 foul shots.
They were 14 of 19 at the line overall.
"We've been in those positions before where the game is close," Wilcox said. "We just come out on the opposite end. We've always known what to do, but sometimes we don't do them."
Not this time.
"We needed to get a game on the positive side of the score so that we can start to feel some sort of success," Romar said. "You drop seven out of eight, doubt can creep in.
"We needed to get a win to start thinking the other way."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen.
|OREGON ST. 62|
Attendance: 8,454. Officials: Mike Reed, Marc Beasley, Tom Nally.