Nate Robinson added 21 for the Huskies, none of which were more critical than the final two that came on a dribble-drive with the shot clock winding down in the final minute. That clutch shot put the Huskies ahead by five with 46.9 seconds left, and held up as the difference-maker.
But after the game, the only person Robinson wanted to talk about was Simmons.
"You've got to find the hot shooter, and we kept feeding him and feeding him," said Robinson. "That's what great teams do, they find the guy that is hot and try to milk it as long as they can."
Washington (22-4, 12-3 Pacific-10) will welcome in the University of Arizona on Saturday at 1 p.m. with the conference title still hanging in the balance. If the Huskies beat the Wildcats and go on to win their final two games of the season on the Bay Area road trip – Cal and Stanford – they will earn the No. 1 seed heading into the Pac-10 Tournament and, at the very least, be co-Pac-10 champions.
In order to earn that right to play in Saturday's monster game, however, Washington had to first beat the Sun Devils. It wasn't easy.
From the first half on, Washington had its hands full with the Sun Devils, needing the big games from Simmons and Robinson, as well as the solid efforts from Will Conroy (13 points) and Bobby Jones (12 points) to overcome a 31-point, 15-rebound night from ASU's Ike Diogu.
At one point midway through the first half, ASU turned a six-point deficit into a five-point lead with an 11-0 run over a six-minute stretch. The Huskies responded, however, as they were able to all night, outscoring the Sun Devils 20-11 in the final seven minutes to take a 44-41 lead to halftime.
"They were like Joe Frazier," said Husky coach Lorenzo Romar. "They just kept coming at us and they played at a high level tonight."
Robinson agreed, noting the toughness inside of Diogu, the Sun Devils' star junior.
"They were a tough team. They play physical," said the Husky guard. "Ike is a grown man playing the college basketball game. As a team we just tried to slow him down. That's all you can do. He's like a train going downhill."
After halftime, the Sun Devils continued to give the Huskies fits inside with Diogu's presence and outside with hot shooting from Kevin Kruger.
Washington pulled out to a 10-point lead on a Simmons long-ball with 13:53 to go, but that's as large of a lead as they would hold the rest of the way. ASU (18-10, 7-9) came back to make it a 59-56 game two minutes later, going on a quick run behind four points apiece from Diogu and Tyrone Jackson.
The Huskies managed to maintain their lead with sharp shooting from the free throw line and leadership from Robinson. The junior guard from Rainier Beach scored eight points in the final 5:19, putting the team on his shoulders when it needed it most.
Kruger finished with 17 points for ASU, hitting 5-of-9 shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Jason Braxton and Steve Moore added 10 apiece.
Record Watch: Will Conroy needs two assists to set a Husky single-season record. The senior point guard also needs eight assists to break the Huskies' all-time career mark.
Celebrity Watch: Seattle SuperSonics Reggie Evans and Rashard Lewis sat on press row, chattin' it up with eternal Dawgman.com intern Henry Han. Evans had some questions about the Huskies, and Han was happy to fill him in. No word yet on whether Evans will be a part of the Dawgpack during Saturday's big game.
Points: Simmons 29, Robinson 21, Conroy 13, Jones 12, Roy 8, Williams 5, Jensen 2
Rebounds: Jones 6, Roy 6, Simmons 4, Robinson 3, Rollins 3, Conroy 2, Williams 1
Assists: Conroy 7, Jones 3, Robinson 3, Roy 3, Simmons 1
Blocks: Rollins 3, Jones 1, Jensen 1
Steals: Robinson 4, Jones 1, Roy 1, Rollins 1
Simmons' hot night extinguishes Devils
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