At the conclusion of its 92-71 victory at Haas Pavilion, No. 17 Washington left no doubt that any so-called funk from the off-court distractions was only temporary.
BERKELEY, Calif. — Shrouded in the controversy of a police sexual-assault investigation involving an unidentified Washington player, the Huskies dealt in positive thinking all week.
Even after suffering their first loss in nearly a month Thursday, they said everything was OK. It was as if they were convincing themselves that nothing was out of the ordinary.
On Sunday, the Huskies looked like their old selves again.
They ran. They dunked. And they shot three-pointers at will against California. They did all the things that epitomize Huskies basketball: pressure defense and outhustling the opponents, which overwhelmed the Golden Bears.
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At the conclusion of its 92-71 victory at Haas Pavilion, No. 17 Washington left no doubt that any kind funk from the off-court distractions was only temporary.
“We’re a veteran group,” Isaiah Thomas said. “Once we get on the court, we really don’t think about too much more than trying to win basketball games and trying to get better. And we’re doing a pretty good job of that.”
The Huskies dominated the defending Pac-10 champion Bears with their Big Three leading the way.
Thomas played what he described as his best game as a Husky and finished with a season-high 27 points on 8-for-16 shooting from the field and 8 for 8 on free throws. He also delivered 13 assists, which is the most for a UW player since 2006.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar has described Thomas as a maestro since assuming the point-guard duties two weeks ago and Sunday’s game might have been the UW junior’s finest performance.
“He was the band conductor orchestrating that game for all of the 35 minutes he was in there,” Romar said. “He was really good.”
Senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning collected his sixth double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds) of the season and senior forward Justin Holiday sank five three-pointers en route to 23 points.
“We’re starting to play like the older players we are and taking care of business like we’re supposed to,” Holiday said. “When we’re playing like that, we have an inside presence, an outside presence and guys getting assists. It makes it really tough for other teams.”
Last season, Cal dominated the conference with its version of the Big Three in seniors Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson. They’ve graduated, which has forced Cal to rely on a handful of newcomers this season.
The young Golden Bears were no match for a veteran Huskies team looking to rebound after Thursday’s 58-56 defeat at Stanford.
“We just weren’t engaged to do the things we needed to do to win,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “This wasn’t our best game and I would say it had to be one of their best games.”
Before tipoff, Romar tweaked the starting lineup for the fourth time this season and replaced senior guard Venoy Overton with junior guard Scott Suggs, who made his first career start.
With Suggs starting, it forced Cal to defend Thomas with 5-foot-11 sophomore Brandon Smith and the pairing was a decisive mismatch for UW.
“(Jorge) Gutierrez usually guards Isaiah and he’s really good,” Romar said. “We felt if we went with someone bigger, he would guard someone bigger and he did.”
Thomas came out aggressive offensively. He had 18 points and six assists in the first half while leading UW to a 48-33 halftime lead.
California (9-8, 2-3 Pac-10) received 20 points from junior forward Harper Kamp.
Washington (13-4, 5-1) hosts Arizona (15-3, 4-1) on Thursday in a game that features the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, respectively, in the Pac-10 race.
Thomas said the Wildcats probably have had the game circled on the calendar for some time.
“I haven’t, but they probably have,” he said. “It’s going to be a good one.”
• Sophomore guard Abdul Gaddy underwent successful surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at UW Medical Center on Friday.
• California honored Montgomery, who collected his 600th win last week. He’s one of seven active coaches with 600 wins.
• UW signee Tony Wroten is one of 10 players selected by USA Basketball to play in the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit on April 9 in Portland.
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Percentages: FG .523, FT .733. Three-point goals: 13-29, .448 (Holiday 5-8, Thomas 3-9, Overton 1-2, Ross 1-2, Gant 1-2, Suggs 1-3, Wilcox 1-3). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 3 (Bryan-Amaning 2, Suggs). Turnovers: 12 (Thomas 5, Gant 2, Ross 2, N’Diaye, Suggs). Steals: 6 (Thomas 2, Gant, Overton, Bryan-Amaning, Holiday). Technical fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .456, FT .567. Three-point goals: 2-10, .200 (Gutierrez 1-3, Crabbe 1-4, Smith 0-1, Murray 0-2). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 2 (Solomon 2). Turnovers: 12 (Kamp 5, Smith 2, Crabbe 2, Murray, Solomon, Sanders-Frison). Steals: 4 (Kamp 2, Sanders-Frison, Gutierrez). Technical fouls: None.
Attendance: 8,649. Officials: David Hall, Verne Harris, Mike Littlewood.
Arizona 80, Arizona St. 69
UCLA 67, Oregon 59
Washington St. 61, Stanford 58
Oregon St. 80, USC 76
Washington 92, California 71