The Huskies break it open early in the second half and roll to their biggest Pac-12 win of the season, a 95-83 victory over Colorado. UW is now 5-1 in conference play and in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12.
With Brandon Roy, perhaps the greatest to play for the Washington men’s basketball team, making a rare appearance and sitting three rows up in the stands, Alaska Airlines Arena felt like the place formerly known as Hec Edmundson Pavilion when he lifted the program to dizzying heights a decade ago.
A robust student section known as the Dawg Pack provided an old-school soundtrack – a constant roar interrupted by spikes of cheers and applause to celebrate the destruction that took place on the floor.
Meanwhile, the UW men’s basketball team made life miserable for Colorado during a 95-83 victory Wednesday night that may have signaled the return of Husky basketball.
“I know what this place sounds like, I got it right here,” coach Lorenzo Romar said pointing to his head. “What it sounds like when it’s packed and they’re loud.
“But tonight, they were good. The Dawg Pack was there early supporting and you got to love that.”
This program resurrection stuff is no easy task. UW, which had a 1-1 split last week in Arizona, took another step toward possibly erasing a four-year NCAA drought with a commanding performance against a 14-win team.
“I’m enjoying this team,” Romar said. “I’ve said that from Day 1. Just enjoying coaching the team.”
Unlike their previous Pac-12 victories that were rollercoaster thrill rides decided in the final minute, the Huskies took control of this one midway through the first half, surged ahead by 22 points early in the second half and had their most lopsided win in conference play.
During wins at Washington State and Arizona State, the Huskies enjoyed double-digit leads in the second half, but had to scramble at the end for a win.
Washington (13-5, 5-1 Pac-12) dominated like it used to – with a suffocating defense that produced a school-record 15 blocks and dazzling offensive displays that resulted in six crowd-pleasing dunks.
Sprinkle in another big night from Pac-12 scoring leader Andrew Andrews, who had 33 points, and solid offensive contributions from Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray, who each tallied 17, and it equaled a good time for the crowd of 6,325.
“As the season goes on a lot of teams will start keying on me a little bit more,” Andrews said. “It’s going to be Baby Boy’s (Murray) turn, Marquese’s turn and they’re all very capable. … It’s all about a team effort.”
Backup forward Malik Dime finished with 10 points, a personal-best seven blocks and six rebounds for the Huskies.
“It’s crazy being around (Dime) when you’re on the court because he gets up so high,” said Chriss, who had a season-high five blocks. “He can alter a lot of shots. Nobody really gets an easy look at a layup or a jump shot because Malik’s arms are so long.”
With Dime and Chriss patrolling the middle, the Huskies held Colorado to 38.7 percent shooting (12 of 31) in the first half and led 47-33 at halftime.
Washington surged ahead to a 20-point lead after back-to-back three-pointers from Murray and Andrews gave UW a 62-42 lead with 15:43 remaining.
“They were kind of scrambling and trying to play one-on-one ball, and we’ll take those odds,” Andrews said.
“But we kind of took our foot off the pedal. … We have to take that (22-point lead) and build on that. We can’t let them make a run.”
The Buffaloes trimmed their deficit to 12 points (71-59) when the Huskies used an 8-0 spurt to regain a 20-point lead (79-59) with 8:29 left.
However, Colorado didn’t go away easily.
The Buffaloes closed to within seven points (87-80) at the 1:33 mark before Andrews put the game away with eight consecutive free throws. He converted 16 of 17 foul shots.
“They whipped us,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “They deserved to win this game. They outplayed us. Really disappointing, but I credit Washington. They have a good team and good players. Andrew Andrews is special.”
Colorado (14-5, 3-3) received 21 points from Dominique Collier while George King and Josh Scott each had 18.
As good as they were Wednesday, Romar believes there’s more ahead for the Huskies.
“We can still get better defensively,” he said. “We have to get to the point if we’re able to get a lead to sustain it and increase the lead as opposed to giving it up. That’s another part of progress that we have to do.”
• Freshman forward Devenir Duruisseau, who suffered a concussion last week in practice and missed the past three games, is expected to be available Sunday when Washington plays Utah.
• Andrews has 1,496 career points and moved into 12th place on UW’s all-time scoring list, passing Deon Luton (1,488), Doug Smart (1,478) and Brandon Roy (1,477).
• UW’s collective grade-point average was 2.89 during the fall quarter, which is the highest since Romar arrived in 2002. Seven Huskies had GPAs of 3.0 or better.
11-7Wednesday’s resultsWashington 95, Colorado 83UCLA 82, Oregon State 73