Ryan Appleby knows defense isn't what comes first to mind when people think of his game. But Saturday, he made it at least enter the conversation...
Ryan Appleby knows defense isn't what comes first to mind when people think of his game.
But Saturday, he made it at least enter the conversation.
Appleby drew the main defensive assignment for guarding UCLA's Arron Afflalo, considered a top candidate for Pac-10 Player of the Year, and helped hold the junior to 12 points as the Washington Huskies beat No. 2 UCLA 61-51.
Appleby said he entered the game thinking, "It doesn't really matter if I score tonight as long as I keep him to his average or below."
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He succeeded as Afflalo, who averages 17.5 points, hit 4 of 14 shots, including 1 of 5 in the first half as the Huskies set the early tone.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said he put Appleby on Afflalo because Appleby has become one of UW's best guards at getting off screens.
“We knew they run him off a ton of screens," Appleby said. "So I just chased him. Once he caught the ball, I was crowding him and trying to make him drive because I knew I was smaller than him and I could move my feet quicker to try and stay in front of him. I just tried to play hard and get it done."
At Staples Center, Los Angeles
Wednesday: Oregon State vs. California, 6 p.m.; Washington vs. Arizona State, 8:42 p.m.
Thursday: Oregon vs. Arizona, noon; UCLA vs. Oregon State-California winner, 2:30 p.m.; USC vs. Stanford, 6 p.m.; Washington State vs. Washington-Arizona State winner, 8:30 p.m.
Freshman Adrian Oliver had drawn main duty on Afflalo when UCLA beat Washington 96-74 in Los Angeles on Dec. 31, a game in which Afflalo scored 27.
Appleby wasn't alone in playing excellent defense. Backcourt mate Justin Dentmon helped limit UCLA's Darren Collison to 2-of-15 shooting and five points.
Dentmon said he changed his defensive approach on Collison after watching film of UCLA's earlier win.
“Just contain him, pick him up early, don't let him get out in transition," Dentmon said. "I had a bad defensive effort down there, so I had to change it up this time."
Afflalo gave begrudging credit to UW's defense, saying, "They did their best but we missed some easy shots and had some roll in and out. That happens."
Said Collison: "I was off tonight. It was more our intensity. It should have been there from the beginning, and it wasn't."
Turning point: UCLA cut a 16-point lead to one with 2:57 left. But then the Huskies got tough, outscoring UCLA 9-0, a run that began with a Hawes tip-in. In that stretch, UCLA was 0 for 5 with two turnovers and two missed free throws.
Next: vs. Arizona State, 8:42 p.m. Wednesday, Pac-10 tournament at Staples Center, Los Angeles.
Forward Hans Gasser and guard Brandon Burmeister each got their first start of the season in the final home game of their careers. Each played the first 1:27, then were removed. They were put back in for the final seconds and taken out so they could get one more standing ovation.
“That was nice," said Gasser, who had a steal and a foul.
Hawes gets serious
Spencer Hawes set a career high with 15 rebounds. The rebounding, he said, was an emphasis.
“I was just more active on the glass, just going after more of them," said Hawes, who had 12 on two other occasions but otherwise hadn't hit double figures this year. "Before the game, that was one of the keys because that's one of our strengths and we had to exploit that and I said, 'You know what? No more messing around. It's time to go out and grab some.' "
â€¢ Dentmon had just two turnovers against the Bruins after having zero against USC Thursday. "He made progress this weekend," Romar said. "He just made a concerted effort to really try to run our team."
â€¢ The game featured just 32 fouls despite the game featured a lot of physical play. "It's been a while since I played in a game that rough," Hawes said.
â€¢ Afflalo seemed to indicate he thought Collison took a few too many shots afterward. "He has to do the best he can to not get caught in his own percentages and make sure everyone else has it going because that's the point guard's duty," he said.
â€¢ UCLA reserve big man Alfred Aboya sat out with a knee injury suffered at Washington State on Thursday. His bench replacements, James Keefe and Ryan Wright, had no rebounds in 14 minutes.