C.J. Wilcox scores game-high 19 points for Huskies.
The Washington men’s basketball team relied on a trio of veterans to carry it to a feel-good, 77-60 victory Friday in its exhibition opener against Division II upstart Seattle Pacific.
However, newcomer Tony Wroten Jr. stole the show.
Fifteen days after undergoing minor arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the freshman point guard dazzled the crowd of 9,481 at Edmunson Pavilion with several jaw-dropping passes, including an alley-oop assist that was the play of the night.
“You talk about the good and the bad — he turned the ball over four times, but he was all over the place,” coach Lorenzo Romar said of Wroten. “He’s getting offensive rebounds. He’s passing. He has his hand in everything.
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“With Tony, understand he practiced twice after his surgery. This was his third time on the floor playing after surgery.”
Wroten, a former Garfield High star, atoned for his turnovers with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists off the bench.
“There’s a big difference between high school (and) coming to the University of Washington, with the big crowd and the atmosphere is loud,” he said. “It’s been great. It’s great to start my college career with a win.
“I was kind of nervous for the first game, with the bright lights. Once I started to settle down, it became a better feel of the game.”
Wroten was one of seven freshmen who made their debuts and among a handful of stars for Washington.
Sophomore guard C.J. Wilcox showed off UW’s perimeter-shooting prowess and connected on 5 of 12 three-pointers for a game-high 19 points.
Sophomore guard Terrence Ross sank 6 of 8 field goals for 15 points and collected a game-high eight rebounds.
And junior point guard Abdul Gaddy, who played his first game since undergoing season-ending knee surgery last January, added 15 points, four rebounds and four assists.
“Some nights Terrence can go off and he can have 30 (points), and some nights he can have an average night,” Gaddy said. “It just depends. C.J. could go off. Tony could go off. I could go off. Anybody can do that, and that’s why we have such a balanced team.”
Washington used a balanced offensive attack and at times a suffocating defense to subdue the Falcons, who entered with a three-game winning streak against D-I opponents.
Unlike 16th-ranked Arizona, which fell to SPU last week, the Huskies removed all suspense early in the game. Washington raced ahead to 8-0, 12-3 and 23-9 leads.
The Huskies led 33-26 at the break and held the Falcons to 25.8 percent shooting in the first half.
Wroten gave Washington its largest lead midway in the second half when he stripped SPU sophomore guard Riley Carel in the open court to ignite a fast break.
The sequence finished with Wroten’s pass to the rim and Ross flying into the lane to flush a windmill dunk that whipped the crowd into a frenzy and gave UW a 54-35 lead with 11:37 left.
Seattle Pacific cut the Huskies’ advantage to 62-52 at the 5:46 mark, but Washington pulled away with a 15-8 run to end the game.
Andy Poling and Jobi Wall led the Falcons with 12 points apiece.
“They’re really good,” SPU coach Ryan Looney said of the Huskies. “They’re long and athletic, and they present a lot of problems for you defensively. I think they’re going to have a great year.”
Washington blocked 10 shots, outrebounded SPU 41-36, forced 15 turnovers and held the Falcons to 34.9 percent shooting.
Still, Gaddy said the Huskies need to improve before their Nov. 12 season opener against Georgia State.
“No offense to them, but that is Seattle Pacific and they’re not a Pac-12 team,” he said. “No disrespect to them — they’re a really good team and they tested us well — but there are other teams that have better scorers, better guards and better bigs, and we got to be ready for that.
“We’ve got a long way to go. It’s a long season, a marathon. But the freshmen are going to keep getting better. And we’re going to need them, especially Tony.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Percentages: FG .349, FT .435. Three-point goals: 6-22 (Wall 2-10, Anderson 2-3, Downs 1-2, Dorman 0-2, Stockton 0-2, Carel 1-2, Morse 0-1). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 3 (Poling, Morse, Hutsen). Turnovers: 15 (Wall 4, Anderson 2, Poling, Downs, Dorman, Carel, Todd, Morse 2, Hutsen 2). Steals: 5 (Wall 3, Poling, Stockton). Technical fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .467, FT .652. Three-point goals: 6-21 (Gaddy 1-4, Wilcox 5-12, Ross 0-1, Stewart 0-2, Andrews 0-1, Wroten 0-1). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 10 (Wilcox 2, Ross, Breunig, Wroten, Jarreau 3, Kemp 2). Turnovers: 11 (Gant, Wilcox, Ross, Stewart, Breunig 2, Andrews, Wroten 4). Steals: 7 (Simmons 2, Gant, Gaddy, Wilcox, Ross, Wroten). Technical fouls: Team.
Officials: Gregory Nixon, Jimmy Casas, Scott Harris. A: 9,481.