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Originally published Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Big shot example of Hawes' vast skills

Many of the dozen-or-so NBA scouts who attended Washington's game against USC on Thursday night took off before the overtime periods began...

Seattle Times staff reporter

LOS ANGELES — Many of the dozen-or-so NBA scouts who attended Washington's game against USC on Thursday night took off before the overtime periods began.

Maybe they'd already seen enough of Spencer Hawes, whose stock is rising about as much as Barry Zito's bank account.

Hawes, though, was just getting started. He scored 10 points in the two overtimes, including a tying three-pointer at the end of the first extra session that displayed yet another facet of his game. It wasn't enough, however, to prevent Washington's 86-79 loss to USC, but it only further reinforced that Hawes is ready to live up to all the hype, at least when it comes to scoring.

Hawes has scored 20 or more points in five of the past six games. In that span, he is averaging 21.2 points and 6.5 rebounds, and has made 54 of 83 shots (65.0 percent).

"On the offensive end, he is playing really well," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "Ike Diogu, Leon Powe, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Don MacLean, those are the freshmen who come to mind that did this type of scoring as freshmen right off the bat."

All played, or are playing, in the NBA, where Hawes might now be destined sooner rather than later.

"It's cool," Hawes said of the presence of NBA scouts. "But that [his NBA future] is not going anywhere. That's going to work itself out later, so I'm not really worried about that aspect of it."

Sunday

Washington @ UCLA,

2 p.m., FSN

What he is worried about is trying to prevent an 0-2 Pac-10 start for the Huskies against top-rated UCLA on Sunday at 2 p.m. Though Hawes' offensive skills were evident Thursday, he had just five rebounds in 47 minutes and couldn't prevent USC's Taj Gibson from scoring 22 points. Hawes said later he felt he'd let his team down in those areas.

He helped make up for it, however, with the surprising three-pointer.

UW trailed 73-70 after Ryan Appleby missed a three-pointer, but the ball was ruled to have gone off the Trojans. During the timeout, Romar learned the Huskies had 1.4 seconds left on the clock instead of just 1.0 as originally thought.

He said he decided quickly that the Trojans would likely heavily guard Appleby, who made 6 of 9 three-pointers, and even Hans Gasser, who had made 2 of 4. (Also limiting options was that Justin Dentmon and Adrian Oliver had already fouled out.)

"We didn't have a whole lot of time to do anything really fancy," Romar said. "There could only be one pass. We put Spencer all the way on the other side of the floor hoping they would kind of forget about him."

Hawes curled off screens from Gasser and Brandon Burmeister and caught the inbounds pass from Phil Nelson at the top of the key and hit nothing but net. It was his first three-point attempt of his college career.

"I thought [Romar] had it backward at first and that I was supposed to be screening for Hans," Hawes said. "But I looked at him and he was dead serious and when your coach has confidence in you, you have to back him up, give him a reason for it. When I shot it, I knew it was down."

As for his scoring outburst of late, Hawes says he's simply beginning to feel more comfortable in UW's system.

"We are developing that chemistry to where they [teammates] are looking for me and I am making myself available and things are just happening for me," he said.

USC redux

One reason for USC's victory was a 38-12 edge in free-throw attempts, the largest disparity in a Huskies game in at least two seasons.

Romar rarely criticizes officiating and didn't following the USC game, though he said Friday he might do his own research to see how big a difference there is between the free throws Pac-10 teams attempt at home and on the road.

"For whatever reason, on the road, that happens a lot. It just seems that way."

Romar's argument might have some merit. Last season, Washington attempted 215 free throws in its nine conference home games, and 149 in nine conference road games.

Romar, though, said the Huskies also were often their own worst enemy.

"Some of the fouls we made were ill-advised ones and reaction fouls," he said.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. Read his blogs on Washington football and basketball at www.seattletimes.com/huskies.

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