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Originally published Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Brockman steps up, helps UW floor OSU

Finally, the rest of the Washington Huskies followed Jon Brockman's lead Saturday afternoon. Not too literally, of course. They didn't all race...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Finally, the rest of the Washington Huskies followed Jon Brockman's lead Saturday afternoon.

Not too literally, of course. They didn't all race into the tunnel and plow into an unsuspecting cheerleader, as Brockman did on one of his patented dashes for a loose ball.

But eventually, the rest got the point that hitting the floor is better than sitting on the bench, where their coach promised to place them if they didn't.

And once they figured that out, the Huskies blew past the Oregon State Beavers at Edmundson Pavilion, 91-74, leading by as many as 25 in the second half after a tight first half.

"You need five guys on the floor like that," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar.

That was a message Romar loudly delivered to his team at halftime with Washington ahead 41-38 after trailing by as many as six early.

"I haven't seen him like that before," said Huskies freshman center Spencer Hawes of Romar at halftime. Asked what was different, Hawes said, "Volume, content. All of the above."

Romar agreed it was as angry at the half as he has been all season. But it was a game he considered a must-win if the Huskies (13-7, 3-6 Pac-10) are to stay alive in the race for an NCAA tournament bid.

"We just had too many lapses," Romar said of the first half.

Only the play of Brockman (14 points by halftime) and guard Justin Dentmon (12) had Washington ahead at halftime.

But more than the numbers for Brockman was the way he played. At one point, he dived on the floor in an unsuccessful attempt at a loose ball, then sprang up, ran down to the other end and got a steal. A few seconds later, he stole a pass and rumbled downcourt for a thunderous dunk.

Another time, he sprinted off the court and through the tunnel after a loose ball, running into a Huskies cheerleader who Brockman said is a good friend.

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"I'm sure she'll have some words for me," he said with a laugh.

To Romar, Brockman's play spoke even louder.

"I feel Jon has taken it upon himself to not necessarily grab guys by the collar and demand [they play hard] but that 'I am going to show you what it means to come out here and compete,' " Romar said.

The message finally seemed to take in the second half as Washington outscored the Beavers 15-5 in the first 4 ½ minutes to take a 56-43 lead.

"Our energy and our defensive pressure kind of started our run," Hawes said.

Brockman had seven points in that span and finished with 25, tying his career high, making 9 of 12 shots. He also grabbed eight rebounds. But the plays he enjoyed most were any of the ones where he ended up sliding on the ground in search of a bouncing ball.

"It's a fun play for me," he said. "I really like doing it. I don't know why. It's one of those things that gets the crowd going and our team can kind of feed off of it."

Said OSU coach Jay John: "We had no answer for Jon Brockman. We don't have a guy tough enough to deal with him."

The Beavers (9-13, 1-8) also don't have anybody who can make a free throw, going 12 for 32 for the game (10 of 28 in the second half) following a 6-of-19 effort Thursday at Washington State. Once the Huskies tightened up the defense inside, the Beavers had trouble scoring, and with Washington holding a 41-23 rebounding advantage, the Huskies usually limited them to one shot.

Dentmon followed his slump-busting performance in the win over Oregon on Thursday with 17 points and seven rebounds. He had 41 points and 16 rebounds for the weekend, making 13 of 24 shots.

It added up to Washington's easiest Pac-10 win of the season, as the conference season hit its midpoint. It was UW's first sweep of a conference weekend, and potentially a turning point after a 1-6 Pac-10 start.

"I thought the silver lining of the weekend was that we competed," said Romar. "We competed more than we have been. Technically, we made some defensive errors. But because we competed, we were able to get through it."

Now comes the real test of whether the Huskies have seen the light -- a road trip this week to Arizona State and Arizona. Washington is 0-6 on the road, 0-5 in Pac-10 games.

"This was important, but nothing's really changed," Romar said of the weekend. "We've been doing pretty good at home. The next step is we've got to find a way to win on the road."

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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