Huskies Remain Unbeaten With Gritty Win

Back in 2004, the Washington Huskies won the Great Alaska Shootout. Led by Captain Will Conroy, the Huskies beat then No. 19 Alabama 79-76 for the Shootout crown. The night before that win they beat Oklahoma 96-91.

The two teams hadn’t played for 10 years, but that didn’t stop UW from repeating their 2004 feat Saturday night, beating OU 69-67 at the MGM Grand Showcase in Las Vegas.

The win gave Washington (10-0) a chance to tie their best ever start under Lorenzo Romar with a win Monday against Tulane. It also gave them their second top-15 win of the season. They beat then-No. 13 San Diego State 49-36 at home December 7th.

“Coming into the game this game would stick with us the rest of the season,” said junior forward Jernard Jarreau. “It would look good on our resume. We just weathered the storm and we were just a tougher team down the stretch.”

The Huskies were led by the 12 points of Jarreau, while Mike Anderson and Robert Upshaw added 11 points apiece.

“This was another challenge for us,” Romar said after the win. “They are the best team we faced. What we suspected several games ago is a reality at this point; we’re a group that stays together. We’re a group that doesn’t take a whole lot of plays off. We have a workmanlike attitude out there on the floor and we play well together.”

Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins scored 17 points each for Oklahoma (7-3), and OU’s big men - TaShawn Thomas and Ryan Spangler - scored 11 apiece.

“Both of those bigs are pretty tough,” Jarreau said of Thomas and Spangler. “Both of them have the 17-foot jump shot and both of them can actually take their defender to the basket. It was a tough job for me but I stood up to it and was just out there having fun.”

Washington raced out to a 20-point lead after a Jarreau jumper gave the Huskies a 37-17 advantage with five minutes left to play in the first half. He was helped with three-pointers by two three-pointers each by Anderson and frosh Donaven Dorsey.

“Those were so important to help us get up 20 points in that first half,” Romar said. “(Jarreau) had his best game this year. He defended TaShawn Thomas, did a remarkable job. He’s very good. We were very concerned with him on tape but Jernard went out there and for 31 minutes did a heck of a job defending him. He hit big shots, he rebounded, he did the things we expect him to do in the game. He was big for us tonight.”

From that moment on, the Sooners outscored Washington 50-32, but could never unlock the Huskies to tie the game or take the lead - although it looked like they might at the end.

A Jarreau jumper with 6:17 remaining gave the Huskies a 64-55 lead, but then the Sooners came roaring back with seven-straight points. Upshaw and Thomas traded two made free throws, and then the two Washington co-captains - Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews - who combined to shoot 4-16 on the day, came up with their biggest plays of the day.

Williams-Goss hit a floater on the secondary break to give Washington a three-point lead with two minutes to play loomed large. Thomas countered with an elbow jumper with a minute to play.

Andrews redeemed a poor decision to go baseline and bury himself among a host of Sooners by coming up with a huge rebound on a Jordan Woodard missed jumper with sixth-tenths of a second left on the clock. He was fouled, made the first free throw and then intentionally missed the second.

Somehow the referees gave a timeout to Oklahoma with three-tenths remaining, but with Upshaw imposing the baseline inbounder, the Sooners never had a chance to get a shot off before time expired.

“We jumped on those guys pretty early in the first half and we knew they were a good team; we knew they were going to make their runs,” Jarreau said. “We had to keep our foot on the gas and come out with a win. They came out physical. We knew we had to do the little things - meet the ball, board, hold on to it tight, and everything else would take care of itself.”

“When we played San Diego State we got up 20 points against them,” Romar added. “Oklahoma is a really good team and we got up and I felt like…I don’t know if we ran out of gas or we were not necessarily going through the motions - but we didn’t have as high a level of intensity as we had in the first 16 minutes of that game.

“But when it was necessary, when we needed to get stops, our guys did it. Give Oklahoma a lot of credit; they’re quick, they are athletic and they are big. Other than San Diego State they have the biggest guards that we’ve played against. With their length at times they bothered us. Plus, they game-planned and schemed defensively some things we hadn’t seen yet that bothered us.”
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