UW Men's Basketball
Huskies rout USC
Washington's posts biggest win over the Trojans in Los Angeles.
Seattle Times staff reporter
LOS ANGELES — Nate Robinson may have temporarily misplaced his shooting touch on the floor, but he was right on target in assessing Washington's 84-59 win over USC last night.
As a reporter asked Robinson a question that began, "Once USC got behind it looked like they just ... ," Robinson quickly finished the sentence with one word: "Quit."
"That's our main goal," Robinson said. "To just play hard and make the other team quit."
And that happened with stunning swiftness as the Huskies got their largest margin of victory on the road against USC while the Trojans seemed to play with less energy than a dead battery.
"That's what Coach told us before the game: that if we take them out of their game right from the punch they will go down," said UW guard Tre Simmons, who led all scorers with 22 points. "That's what they did. They put their heads down."
Washington has won nine a row — its longest winning streak since the 1983-84 team won 10 straight. Washington is also 3-0 in Pac-10 play for the first time since that '83-84 season, when Detlef Schrempf and Christian Welp led the Huskies to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
Washington is also 13-1 overall, its best start since a 14-0 beginning to the 1975-76 season.
The Huskies scored the first 10 points of the game, had a 36-19 advantage at halftime and never led by fewer than 15 in the second half.
"Our guys tried, but I think frustration set in," said USC coach Jim Saia.
The win came so easily that it hardly seemed to matter that Robinson remained in a shooting slump for a sixth straight game. He made just 2 of 9 shots and scored just eight points — his second-lowest total of the season — and is 17 of 59 in his last six games.
"It's going to come around," Robinson said. "My team didn't need me to score today. When they do need me to score, I'll be able to score."
Indeed, Robinson seemed to sense early that his presence in the scoring column wasn't going to be necessary.
Less than three minutes into the game, Robinson stole the ball and seemed headed to an easy lay-in. But he stopped and passed to a trailing Mike Jensen, who followed with a dunk.
"I was really surprised," said a smiling Jensen, who followed up his career-best game last Sunday against Stanford with another strong outing (14 points). "I thought he was going to dunk it because that's what the people want to see anyway."
Robinson explained he merely wanted to get teammates into the game early, something he continued to do all game as he finished with a game-high seven assists.
"He was 2 for 9, and he realized his shot wasn't falling," UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. "He didn't want to be 2 for 18. It's a compliment to him that he looked to dish the ball off."
Robinson's steal was one of 17 USC turnovers in the first half as Washington's full-court press completely befuddled the Trojans.
"Their pressure really bothered us, and we couldn't run our offense," Saia said. "It was just a bad matchup for our team. We're not as quick as them."
USC's only real sign of life came after Washington scored the first 10 points. Rainier Beach High grad Lodrick Stewart then scored seven straight points to help USC cut the lead to 12-8.
But two three-pointers and a lay-in by Simmons keyed an 18-4 Washington run that essentially ended the competition with more than six minutes remaining in the first half.
Stewart didn't make another basket until there were fewer than eight minutes left. He finished the game with just 10 points after averaging almost 18 in the previous 10 games.
"We can't win the way we were playing," Stewart said after the Trojans lost their third in a row to fall to 7-7 (0-3 Pac-10). "We wasn't really doing nothing. The effort wasn't there."
The regular paltry Sports Arena crowd — this one numbered 2,633 — never was a factor.
"It kind of feels like a neutral court," Simmons said.
That won't be the case tomorrow, however, as the Huskies travel to UCLA's Pauley Pavilion in search of their first sweep of the Los Angeles schools since the 1986-87 season — and only the second in school history.
"Now UCLA, that is pretty much the full-course meal," Robinson said.
"It seemed like today, the way USC played, this was just an appetizer. Just a little taste."
• USC attempted a season-high 32 free throws but made just 13.
• USC is 0-3 in Pac-10 play for the first time since the 1990-91 team began 0-4. That team rallied to advance to the NCAA tournament.
• The blowout allowed for plenty of rest for Washington's key players. Robinson played 32 minutes, but no one else played more than 23.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org