Dunkin' Dawgs giddy after shocking UA

The weather outside was soggy and wet, which was typical of a winter day in Seattle, Washington. On a typical match-up between the high power Arizona Wildcats and the Washington Huskies, the Wildcats are usually standing victorious at the end of the game. This however, was not a typical night. The atmosphere inside the Huskies home arena was as electric as it has ever been as the home crowd rushed the floor to celebrate with the joyful Huskies as they upset No. 9 Arizona 96-83.

"I can just say that I'm extremely proud of our guys," said Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar. "That Arizona team was a team that was running through people. They were a buzz saw it seems. We know their history, we know their currency and for our guys to come out and do the job they did tonight, I'm just proud of them."

The victory over the Wildcats gives the Huskies their third straight win and it was Washington's first victory over a ranked team during Romar's tenure as the Huskies head coach. Washington came close to defeating Arizona at home last season as they fell just short in overtime. This time around however, the Huskies needed just four quarters to beat the heavily favored Wildcats.

"We've been taking steps," said Romar of the Huskies progress. "We needed that first victory at Oregon State. If we don't win that, we don't win this tonight. Then we needed another road victory that we can compete on the road. So before tonight, there were two big steps that we needed to get to tonight. To beat a ranked team like this is something that will hopefully get our confidence level a little higher. It's a big win but again, we're still only 3-5. There's an entire half and one game of conference left so we still got a long way to go."

Coming into the game, there was a question of whether or not Washington would be able to stop the high-octane Arizona offense. The Huskies defense rose to the challenge to force Arizona to turn the ball over 21 times and turned those into 32 points the other way.

"When we needed it the most, I thought we did a good job," said Romar of his team's defense. "We were really scrappy tonight. Our guys scrapped and that's what helped us."

Nate Robinson, who scored a career-high 31 points, received a lot of praise from Romar for his play on the other side of the ball. Robinson dove and clawed for every loose ball and his past-life cornerback instinct allowed him to net five steals. However, for those who saw the game or at least seen the highlights know what play stood out the most from this evening.

With 9:35 left to go in the game and the Huskies trailing 65-64, Huskies guard Curtis Allen took the ball up the floor. Allen then lobbed the ball towards the hoop to a leaping Robinson who threw the ball down for a monster alley-oop slam that got 8,545 people out of their seats and screaming off the top of their lungs. Romar, who was standing just a few feet away, tried hard to keep his excitement under wraps.

"I had to hone up on my acting skills and act like I've seen before," he said. "If I had seen it on television, I would have been jumping up and down out of my seat. It was pretty spectacular."

In a game that saw the two teams combine for 90 points in the paint, dunks were the order of the day as both teams showcased their best air talent to excite the crowd. Robinson's alley-oop dunk however was the one that mattered most because the Huskies were able to maintain the momentum gained from the play to fend off the Wildcats for the rest of the night.

"We were running it through practice and coach just told Curt to throw it," said Robinson as he recalled his highlight reel play. "I told Curt that if he threw it, I was going to catch it guarantee it I'll dunk it."

"I told him I was going to try to get on Sportscenter so just throw it and I'm going to dunk it," he said jokingly. "Hans (Gasser) and the guys on the bench said that they saw my face over the rim and I knew I was high, but I didn't know I was that high. All the joy and the excitement that was going with the game and that dunk just set the mode of the game. The momentum was on our side but we played through everything."

Robinson, who is listed at 5-9 in the media guide, has always been known to play bigger than his physical size may indicate. A member of the media asked Robinson if he was truly indeed 5-9.

"Yeah," he said with a smile.

Robinson believes that this big of a win is just what the Huskies needed to turn their season around. After dropping their first five conference games, Washington will attempt to feed off the energy from Thursday night to take care of Arizona State on Saturday.

"It makes us hungrier," he said of the team's desire. "In the locker room we said that we just got a little piece of the pie. Well we have to get more of it and so with that, everybody on our team is so hungry to get more wins and make it to the Pac-10 and eventually the dance."

Arizona led by as many as 11 points at one time. There were many cases this season when that lead seemed too big to overcome, but Robinson and the Huskies did not let any double-digit deficit get in the way this night.

"We believe in each other," he said. "We knew we were going to get our run next and we were going to make it bigger than theirs. We just needed to make as many stops as we could. We had to take it to them no matter what. We couldn't keep our heads down and we just had to take it to them."

Bobby Jones, who battled foul problems all night, was still riding a high wave of emotion as he entered the media room. "I'm so excited right now," said Jones who finished with six points. "Finally we put a great game together. We came and proved that we know how to play with the elite teams in the country, and it showed tonight."

"I'm still excited. I'm breathing hard right now."

Jones played in only 14 minutes of the game because of foul trouble. After his fourth foul in the opening minutes of the second half, Romar pulled his defensive specialist out of the game to save him for later use.

"It was killing me but my teammates played a great game," he said. "I was ecstatic on the sidelines and that's what we have to do to support each other. When I came in, I came in and did what I had to do."

Jones also had thoughts to share about Robinson's dunk.

"When coach diagramed it on the sideline and when he says Nate, we weren't surprised because Nate can get up he does it in practice everyday. The way they (Arizona) have their zone, it provides an opportunity and Curtis threw a nice pass. Nate was on a roll. It doesn't sound crazy to me."

Will Conroy, who quietly had a super game himself was in his talking mode this evening as he shared his thoughts on the game.

"I told you guys that all we needed was one (win to get things going)" said Conroy who finished with 19 points and eight assists. "Arizona is a great basketball team. They run and they score, but we run and score too so we weren't going to back down from them. We were going to run and play with them all night."

And what did Conroy think of Nate Robinson tonight?

"What am I supposed to say man? That guy is 5-8!" said Conroy.

Conroy then went on to tell a story of what went on after practice the previous day.

"Yesterday we had a dunk contest after practice," Conroy started out. "Nate, Mike Jensen, and myself. Brandon Roy jumps pretty high too but he doesn't get involved in that kind of stuff. Mike was out there dunking by himself and Nate challenged him saying, ‘I cant do that.'"

"He's (Robinson) challenging a 6-9 dude as he is throwing things under his leg and dunking. He tells me, "Hey Dubb, watch the dunk I get in the game tomorrow.' I told him that I was going to throw it to him but you know you have to be kind of skeptical and I told myself that I was not going to throw a lob to a 5-8 dude. Coach is going to sit me down if I do that."

"Then I saw that little dude go over all of them guys and I turned around and looked at Roy and said, ‘Are you kidding me?' If that's not the number one play of the night on ESPN, I don't know what is. He's 5-8 and going over a dude who's 6-9 and flushing it through the hole."

Wait. Robinson told us he was 5-9.

"He's 5-8!" exclaimed Conroy. "That's Gary Coleman. You heard it here."

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