Husky men worth the hype
So this is what all the hype was about. This is why Spencer Hawes has been called maybe the best recruit in Washington history, and this...
Seattle Times staff reporter
So this is what all the fuss has been about.
This is why Spencer Hawes has been called maybe the best recruit in Washington history, and why his presence alongside Jon Brockman up front has had the Huskies tabbed as a team that could legitimately make a run at the Final Four.
After a beginning to the season filled with fits and starts, it all came together for the Huskies on Wednesday. Washington, 17th-ranked, led for all but the first two minutes in beating No. 12 Louisiana State, a Final Four participant a year ago, 88-72 in front of 10,000 spectators at Edmundson Pavilion.
Hawes had career highs with 23 points and 12 rebounds while Brockman added 19 points and 14 rebounds and led a defensive effort that held LSU star forward Glen Davis to eight points. It was the first time "Big Baby" has failed to hit double-digits since late in the 2004-05 season, 48 games ago.
"If you have ever doubted Jon Brockman and wondered where the hype is, there it is," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar.
UW's two big men set the tone from the opening seconds. Hawes blocked Davis on LSU's first possession, and scored Washington's first four points. Brockman then scored the next nine, six coming on tip-ins or rebound putbacks. That gave UW a 13-6 lead and the Huskies never looked back, leading 50-36 at halftime.
Freshman forward Quincy Pondexter then got into the act, scoring all 15 of his points in the second half to assure the lead was never in danger as the Huskies pulled away, leading by as many as 23.
"I don't mean to brag on them, but our front line was pretty good tonight," said Romar.
Said LSU coach John Brady: "Hawes and Brockman showed our guys what it is all about to play hard the whole time. Those guys just beat us every which way possible. That has not happened to us in a long time."
LSU (6-3), at No. 12, was the highest-ranked nonconference foe other than Gonzaga to play the Huskies in Seattle since No. 11 New Mexico in 1998.
The Huskies are 9-1 and finally looked worthy of its lofty ranking, and gave evidence to the assertion that the blowout defeat at Gonzaga 11 days ago was more a case of stage fright than incompetence.
"We matured a lot this game," Hawes said. "We showed we can learn quickly and bounce back."
No one might have matured more in recent days than Hawes, whose first month of the season was filled with inconsistency as he battled to adjust to college basketball and recover from minor knee surgery.
But he turned in the best game by a Washington center since the days of Todd MacCulloch, hitting 6 of 8 shots in the first half and 10 of 16 for the game.
In scoring 14 first-half points, he hit jump hooks, a turn-around bank shot from 15 feet, and baseline drives for layins. He then moved his game outside in the second half, hitting three consecutive jumpers from an increasing distance to give him 20 points with 17 minutes still left. After he nailed the last one from just inside the three-point line, he held an animated conversation with LSU's Magnum Rolle as he backpedaled down the court.
"That was some of my old personality coming out," Hawes said with a smile. "I couldn't help it. Games like that are so much fun."
Said Brockman: "It felt like he hit 40 [shots] in a row. He can do that. He's a great post player."
Brockman had some battle scars — a long scratch on his face courtesy of a Davis fingernail.
But he got the better of the fight all night as Davis hit just one of his first nine shots and didn't make his second field goal until 7:59 left, by which time UW had a 23-point lead. Davis finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
"I was excited," Brockman said. "I love playing against great players and he's a great player. I'd say he's the best post I've played against."
Davis didn't argue UW's dominance, saying "They just outplayed us tonight. We didn't give them our best punch."
Hawes, meanwhile, called it "a great game for us to build off of and show where we are at."
Wednesday, they were in December, looking like a team that just might be built for March.
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