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Originally published Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Notebook | Wallace shines as others fizzle

Washington Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar didn't have to look hard to find a bright spot after his team's 84-54 loss to the host Arizona Wildcats...

Seattle Times staff reporter

TUCSON, Ariz. — Washington Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar didn't have to look hard to find a bright spot after his team's 84-54 loss to the host Arizona Wildcats here saturday afternoon.

That's because there was only one — the play of sophomore center Artem Wallace.

While Romar questioned his team's "ability to compete," he excused Wallace from blame.

"He out-competed anyone else on our team," Romar said of Wallace.

It showed in the box score, as Wallace led the Huskies in scoring for the first time in his career, finishing with 12 points in 27 minutes, each career highs.

Wallace had only two rebounds as the Huskies were outrebounded, 42-25. But Romar said, "He just worked his tail off, and that's the biggest thing you can ask."

That's why Wallace has earned a starting spot, which initially seemed temporary because of an ankle injury to Spencer Hawes but has now lasted four games.

Saturday's game at a glance

Player of the game: Arizona freshman forward Jordan Hill backed up Lute Olson's decision to move him into the starting lineup permanently, setting a tone for Arizona's domination inside from the start. Hill finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots and received a standing ovation as he left with under three minutes to go.

Turning point: The Huskies were hanging in, down 26-20 with just over eight minutes to go in the first half, when Jon Brockman was called for two fouls in 10 seconds. Arizona turned the fouls into five points, and Brockman then had to sit, spurring an 11-0 run that put the Wildcats firmly in command.

Next: Washington vs. California, Edmundson Pavilion, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

 

-- Bob Condotta

 

Wallace had scored just six points in Pac-10 games before Saturday, and he had just two in the first half against Arizona. But as the game turned into a rout in the second half, he was the Husky with a pulse, hitting all five of his shots (and all six for the game).

"Normally I don't look for offense as much because we have other guys who can score," he said. "But today, after a couple of shots fell, coach Romar drew up a play for me and I decided to try to attack and see what happens. ... It was nice, but offense is not something I really strive for. I'm more about defense. If it [scoring] happens, it happens."

On the other end of the spectrum was Hawes, who thought he was beginning to get healthy and revert to his December form, when he looked like one of the best players in the conference.

His health, he said, was fine Saturday. But his game was ailing as he was 3 for 11 with just six points in 25 minutes, though he did have a team-high six rebounds.

"I don't think that had anything to do with his sickness, not today," Romar said.

Hawes admitted that "I just wasn't on."

Hawes has been held under double figures three times in his last seven games, and there is sure to be speculation about whether his struggles will have an impact his decision on whether to turn pro at the end of the season.

Hawes said afterward that "it's hard not to think about [the NBA]. But I'm trying to put that off and not focus on that now," adding the current plight of the team is not swaying him in either direction.

"There's still a lot of season left," he said.

Notes

• Washington was outscored 40-22 in the second half at Arizona State on Thursday night, and 45-26 in the first half Saturday, meaning the Huskies were outscored 85-48 in that span while shooting 16 of 51 from the field.

• The Huskies shot 6 for 35 from the three-point line for the weekend. Ryan Appleby was 4 for 14, with the rest of team going 2-21.

• Jon Brockman's two rebounds was a season low.

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