UW is riding a wave of momentum coming off their red-shirt freshman’s 24 points in the second half against UCLA. CJ Wilcox was able to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. When the rest of the team was cold and struggling to find any sort of offensive rhythm, Wilcox was lighting up the Bruins from all over the court. Even though the Huskies seemed to struggle offensively in the last game, UW was able to get back to what has made them a successful program, defense first. Justin Holiday was able to shut down Tyler Honeycutt and UW collectively was able to limit Reeves Nelson to 10 points. The matchup versus USC is intriguing because USC was able to take a hot UW team (at the time) to overtime. Now that USC has found recent success, except for that flounder in Pullman, will USC be able to pull out the victory on UW’s senior night
In spite of their first half struggles against UCLA, UW has the 2nd highest points per game average in the country at 84.9. They are 21st in field goal percentage (.474), 11th in rebounds in a game (39.7), and 4th in assists per game (17.6). The Huskies are very capable of scoring and they find ways to do it from about anyone on their roster as was the case on Thursday. Isaiah Thomas is leading the team in points per game at 16.6 and is probably the most deadly when he gets hot. He has been the Pac-10 player of the week multiple times this season and is able to shoot 3s or drive into the lane for the layup. He also has an amazing ability to find the open man. Matthew Bryan-Amaning is the threat in the post, he isn’t a natural scorer but this year has developed more into that role, and is putting up 16.2 points per game. The offense is hard to figure out, and many a coach has spent hours game planning around one player only to find another go off against them. The biggest issues arise when the Huskies get rattled on defense, more desperate shots get thrown up, and more turnovers happen. The zone has been their biggest problem to face when matching up against another team.
This is where UW wants their game to be played, in spite of their amazing offensive numbers, the Huskies are looking to create turnovers and momentum out of their defense. They want the game to be quick and fast, but they are willing to let teams get frustrated as the shot-clock winds down and the opponent just has to put up a contested jumper.
Their style is to play in man-to-man and the best defenders on the team are Venoy Overton, Justin Holiday, and Aziz N’Diaye. Overton and Holiday both have all-defensive PAC-10 awards. Overton is known as a pesky and annoying defender, he wants to get into his opponent’s head and force them to make mistakes. However, he has the tendency to get lots of fouls and get into the ref’s heads. Holiday is a solid defender, and can shut down an opponent’s best player when he is on his game. However, he can tend to get lost in screens and or trick plays. Aziz N’Diaye is averaging 1.3 blocks a game at under 18 minutes a game. This is the equivalent of getting about a block or two in a half. He has the ability to be an amazing shot blocker and can control the paint on the defensive end of the court.
The best way to beat UW is to slow the game down, and really make them work the shot clock. UW isn’t used to using much of the shot clock, and will start to panic if they don’t get a shot off quickly. This will force their hand, create more opportunities for them to get frustrated and turn the ball over. If USC is able to grind it out and not go into OT again, they have a legitimate shot at winning the game. The first half won’t matter as much as the second, because the second half is when UW has been running away from teams that they beat. USC needs to play a full forty minutes to make this a game and have a chance to win.