Washington rolls to 95-80 victory over Oregon State in Pac-12 opener
Tony Wroten had 26 points and nine rebounds to lead the Huskies.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Tony Wroten Jr. leads the Pac-12 in turnovers, but before Thursday's Pac-12 opener, he told himself this would be the game he wouldn't commit a turnover.
However, on the first play — just seven seconds after the tipoff — it happened again. The freshman guard darted in the lane, leapt awkwardly and threw the ball to an Oregon State defender.
"I was like, 'Oh my God, here we go again,' " Wroten said. "I was just able to settle down and let the game come to me."
That's an understatement — Wroten took over in Washington's 95-80 victory in front of 9,592 at Edmundson Pavilion.
He tormented the Beavers with a series of dribble drives and strong finishes at the rim for many of his game-high 26 points. He converted 10 of 16 field goals and made 5 of 7 free throws.
"As you get older — and it's not like he's 22 all of a sudden — but he's had 11 games under his belt and the really talented ones, they learn to figure it out," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "This was a different kind of game. This was more wide open.
"He really showed that he's made substantial improvement in terms of impacting winning."
Wroten, who made his fourth start, scored 20 or more points in four of the past five games. He also took over the scoring lead from Oregon State's Jared Cunningham.
"In college I don't feel like nothing is easy," Wroten said. "I'm just doing whatever I need to do for my teammates to win.
"I'm a great penetrator and being able to get to the rim. I'm just fortunate enough to get by my defender and making layups and getting to the line."
When Wroten didn't make the layup, he collected the rebound for a putback and many of his career-high nine rebounds. He also had four assists.
"He is darn good," Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. "That is why everyone had him being one and done.
"He is strong and he has a good way about him even though he is young. He has a mature way about him. He is going to be good in this league."
Washington and Wroten struggled this season converting free throws and taking care of the ball. Against Oregon State, the Huskies were exceptional in both categories.
They converted 17 of 20 free throws and committed just nine turnovers — Wroten had two — against a Beavers team that led the conference and forced an average of 20.2 per game.
"Those two areas really make a difference in the game," Romar said. "We turn the ball over a few more times or miss half of those foul shots, maybe it's a different game."
Oregon State entered the game with the top scoring offense in the Pac-12 (83.4 points). Washington handcuffed the Beavers defensively and took control early.
Washington unveiled a new starting lineup that included Wroten and junior center Aziz N'Diaye, and the Huskies led 10-2 and 24-14 in the opening minutes.
Junior guard Abdul Gaddy collected a no-look pass from Wroten and made a layup to give the Huskies their largest lead (40-20) with 5:46 remaining in the first half.
Washington led 50-39 at halftime, but Oregon State didn't go away easily.
Beavers sophomore guard Ahmad Starks (14 points) sank a three-pointer to cut OSU's deficit to three (83-80) with 2:55 left.
Sophomore guard C.J. Wilcox, who moved to the bench for the first time this season, sank a short jumper on the ensuing possession and the Beavers didn't score again. They missed their final five shots — four three-pointers.
Wilcox finished with 15 points. Freshman Desmond Simmons had 13 points to help the UW reserves outscore OSU's bench 30-9.
N'Diaye, who returned to the starting lineup after a three-game absence, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds and held his own against Angus Brandt (16 points).
The Huskies had difficulty with Joe Burton, who had 18 points and seven assists, but they shut down Cunningham in the second half.
He had 13 points before halftime and finished with 15 due in large part to Gaddy, who also had 13 points and six assists.
"We're just trying to take it one game at a time," Gaddy said. "We think we can do really well in our conference. We just have to be able to guard and keep getting better."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen
|OREGON ST. (10-3)|
Attendance: 9,592. Officials: Randy McCall, Kevin Brill, Tony Padilla.
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