Huskies crush Virginia in Maui opener, 106-63
The Huskies will face Kentucky and freshman Terrence Jones next after a dazzling performance in a rout of Virginia in their Maui Invitational opener.
Seattle Times staff reporter
UW vs. Kentucky, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
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LAHAINA, Hawaii — This was the game the Huskies wanted the country to see.
They showcased their size, speed, diverse offense and unrelenting defense in a spectacular display that overwhelmed Virginia in a game that turned into a rout soon after the purple-clad capacity crowd at Lahaina Civic Center settled into their seats.
Washington not only defeated Virginia 106-63 in the first round of the Maui Invitational on Monday, the 13th-ranked Huskies sent a message to everyone else in the tournament that they're a legitimate contender to take the title.
In their last national television appearance, the Huskies were soundly defeated in the NCAA Sweet 16 by West Virginia.
This time — in front of an ESPN2 audience — Washington played its most dominant game in recent memory.
This was better than the 51-point win over McNeese State two weeks ago.
It was an array of highlight dunks and a school-record tying 17 three-pointers and the Huskies crowd chanting for walk-on Brendan Sherrer, dubbed the team's Human Victory Cigar, with about five minutes left.
"I'm not pretty good at predictions and there was no way I could have predicted that we would have done that," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "No way I would have predicted we would have scored that many points against that type of team."
After the Huskies had knocked off a pair of inferior opponents by a combined average of 40 points, Virginia (2-2) was supposed to give Washington (3-0) its stiffest test of the season.
The Huskies led 16-13 with 14:23 left in the first half, before they went on a 21-4 run that blew the game open.
Reserve center Aziz N'Diaye began the spurt with a dunk and a layup, however, it was backup guard C.J. Wilcox who staggered the Cavaliers with consecutive three-pointers from the top of the key.
Isaiah Thomas, who scored a team-high 18 points, followed suit minutes later and delivered the knockout blow — another trey — that put Washington ahead 37-17 with 7:13 left in the first half.
The Huskies converted eight of nine three-pointers in the first half and led 55-31 at intermission.
"We wanted to come out aggressive and just play hard," Thomas said. "Play hard and do things right."
Everything worked perfectly for the Huskies.
Their suffocating defense forced 17 turnovers that resulted in 26 points.
Senior forward Justin Holiday spearheaded the defensive attack and finished with a career-high six steals. He also had 11 points.
"It's really hard to prepare for their pressure and to simulate it in practice," said freshman guard Joe Harris, the former Chelan High star, who led Virginia with 19 points. "Creating turnovers is a big part of their game."
Washington finished with more rebounds (39-34) and more assists (22-9), and shot better from the field (58 percent to 39.9) and three-pointers (65.4 to 25).
The Huskies also received 50 points from their bench, including Wilcox, who had a career-best 17 points. Abdul Gaddy and Terrence Ross each scored 12.
"We had a high level of focus," Romar said. "We were really dialed in tonight."
The 43-point blowout snapped a four-year streak in which Washington lost its road opener.
The win also allowed Romar to extract a bit of revenge against Virginia's Tony Bennett, the former Washington State coach who had a 5-2 record against UW.
"I played against them many times and you have to make them play against a set defense," Bennett said. "You have to take care of the ball and be sound in defense. And that was lax tonight."
With 2:13 left, the UW fans got what they wanted and Sherrer checked in, which allowed the Huskies starters to celebrate on the bench in the final minutes.
Next up: No. 8 Kentucky, John Calipari and Terrence Jones, the former UW commit who spurned the Huskies in a bizarre flip-flopping recruiting episode this summer.
Jones was brilliant earlier in the day during the Wildcats' 76-64 victory over Oklahoma. He finished with 29 points on 12-for-17 shooting, 13 rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals.
Jones' scoring output was two points short of Kentucky's freshman record and is tied for second best on the list.
Tuesday's 6:30 p.m. semifinal is a game UW fans have eagerly anticipated since Jones, who was considered the missing piece to a championship puzzle, reversed his verbal commitment.
The Huskies, however, said there's no extra motivation playing Kentucky.
"I'm ready," Holiday said. "It's just like we were playing anybody else. It's the next game.
"I want to win. Whoever is in our way, we got to take care of them. It's Kentucky and they got something coming for them."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
Attendance: 2,400. Officials: Tim Higgins, Jeff Nichols, Jeffrey Clark.Reversing the trend
Washington had lost its past four road openers before beating Virginia on Monday.
Nov. 22, 2010/Virginia/W, 106-63
Dec. 3, 2009/Texas Tech/L, 99-92 (OT)
Nov. 15, 2008/Portland/L, 80-74
Dec. 1, 2007/Oklahoma State/L, 96-71
Dec. 9, 2006/Gonzaga/L, 97-77
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.