Dejounte Murray scores career-high 34 points to lead Huskies who took over sole possession of second place in the Pac-12 standings.
The Huskies began the second half of the Pac-12 race much like they played many games in the first half of the conference season – on the edge.
It was another helter-skelter affair for Washington, which rallied from a poor first-half showing, dominated defensively in the second half and ran away in the extra period for a 95-83 overtime win over Arizona State on Wednesday in front of 6,533 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Huskies improved to 15-7 overall and claimed sole possession of second place in the Pac-12 standings at 7-3.
Here’s three takeaways from the game:
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ENJOY DEJOUNTE MURRAY NOW BECAUSE HE MAY NOT BE AROUND MUCH LONGER — I’m not the wagering type, but if anyone pressed me I figured Murray would return for one more year of college. I hadn’t discussed this topic in depth with him. We talked about it once and he said all the right things like he’s not thinking about the NBA draft and enjoying the college experience. A mock draft projected he would be a late first-round pick so I figured Murray would return, improve his stock and take off in 2017 when another mock draft projected he would be a lottery pick. But seriously, if he has a few more games like he did Wednesday, then he might be a lottery pick this summer. Maybe it was ASU’s scheme or personnel, but Murray was sensational while scoring a career-high 34 points on 10-of-14 shooting. He connected on 14 of 18 free throws. He also had 11 rebounds and six assists to offset four turnovers in 37 minutes. Murray practically did whatever he wanted. He had excellent control over the ball and his body. He spun, slithered and elevated to the rim with seemingly little effort. I’m not sure if he made a shot outside of 12 feet. Tony Wroten was the last freshman guard at UW who played this well and he was taken 25th overall in the 2012 draft. Maybe Murray stays around a little longer, but it’s certainly no guarantee.
MARQUESE CHRISS SHOWS TEMERITY AND BOUNCES BACK FROM TOUGH FIRST HALF — The first half couldn’t have been any worse for the freshman forward who played just two minutes after picking up two fouls. However, Chriss had one heckuva second half. He finished with 19 points on 7-for-7 shooting. It’s been said many times in this space, but the Huskies are a different team when he’s on the floor. Chriss made mundane plays like mid-range jumpers. He also made highlight plays like crowd-pleasing putback dunks and alley-oop slams. In the second half, Chriss did well to back away from contact on the defensive end. The only flaw in his performance was a 5-for-12 shooting on free throws.
DEFENSE SETTLES IN LATE — Washington held Arizona State to 31 percent shooting (9 of 29) in the second half. The Sun Devils were 1 of 8 from the field (12.5 percent) in overtime, but they were mostly forcing shots after falling behind early. Still, that’s a major improvement for a UW team, which had whittled defensively in the second halves of recent games. To the Huskies’ credit, they did a nice job defensively on Tra Holder in the second half. The sophomore guard had 12 points and four three-points in the first half. He finished with 18 points.