No. 23 Washington wins without star PG
It's a common grumble heard from freshman early in their first season about a lack of playing time or opportunities.
And Washington's Terrence Ross was no different.
''What freshmen don't understand when they're being recruited, and when they end up getting somewhere, is that it's not just your ability to make shots,'' Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. ''If you're going to play for a program that's going to be successful, you have to guard, you have to run certain things and get the ball to the right people in the right spots, you have to remember everything that you're doing offensively and defensively. Oftentimes, it's entirely different conceptually than anything you've ever done.''
If Ross didn't prove himself ready for more playing time in the first Pac-10 game of his career last week at USC, he did some more convincing Thursday night.
Ross scored a season-high 25 points, taking advantage of more playing time due to the loss of guard Abdul Gaddy to a knee injury, and No. 23 Washington shut down Oregon in the final 12 minutes for an 87-69 victory.
Ross made up for a slow night from leading scorer Isaiah Thomas — although Thomas closed strong — to help the Huskies (11-3) open Pac-10 play 3-0 for the first time in six seasons. Ross hit 11 of 18 shots, capping the night with a lob dunk off a pass from Thomas that brought everyone in Hec Edmundson Pavilion to their feet. His previous career high came last week at USC when he scored 18 points in an overtime victory against the Trojans.
''I'm getting more used to it. It's a little faster now,'' Ross said. ''I'm just settling down and getting used to it and not thinking so much.''
Washington was playing its first game since losing Gaddy to a torn ACL in his left knee after being hurt in practice earlier this week. The Huskies started Venoy Overton in his place, a move likely to last, but one that also saps the Huskies from their biggest energy boost coming off the bench.
At times, the Huskies looked completely lost without Gaddy trying to figure out the Ducks various defensive looks. Oregon used a variety of traps and zones in an attempt to confuse and slow down the Huskies on the offensive end.
And for a while it worked.
But Ross was simply too good. The freshman wasn't as highly touted as former high school teammate Terrence Jones — now at Kentucky — coming out of Portland, but he's proving nearly as dynamic. Known as a shooter, Ross was 3 of 7 on three-pointers, but was just as effective around the basket.
Thomas thought his lob to Ross was headed out of bounds until the 6-foot-6 swingman swooped in and slammed it through.
''He went and got it,'' Thomas said. ''He had a great game.''
Thomas came alive late, finishing with 20 points, including a breakaway dunk in the final two minutes, the first college dunk from the 5-foot-8 guard. He closed the night with a deep three-pointer that gave the Huskies a 21-point lead. Thomas also added nine assists and six rebounds.
Reserve Scott Suggs, who went scoreless last week in two games in Los Angeles, added 13 points, as did reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who also grabbed eight rebounds.
Oregon's Joevan Catron made things interesting by starting the second half with 11 straight points and helping Oregon take its first lead at 42-41. But after Johnathan Loyd's three gave Oregon a 47-46 lead with 16:40 left, the Ducks never led again.
Catron finished with 20 points for Oregon (7-8, 0-3).
''We felt like we had to get him involved, and you know he got it going there a little bit which really gave us a big lift and guys set some good picks for him and he finished some plays,'' Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
It didn't help the Ducks went nearly nine minutes of the second half with just one field goal. After Garrett Sim's basket with 12:28 left, the Ducks had just one field goal and six points until Jeremy Jacob's baseline jumper with 3:34 to go.
Sim finished with 13 points for the Ducks.
''It's good to get some things going but obviously we had some penetration there but just didn't finish some plays down the stretch,'' Altman said. ''We had some opportunities but just couldn't get them done.''