Huskies defeat Brooks-less Ducks

Justin Dentmon scored a career-high 24 points and the Washington Huskies took advantage of a missing Aaron Brooks to defeat Oregon 89-77 in front of a packed Hec Ed House Thursday night.

Brooks, suspended from the game as a result of a punch he threw against UW guard Ryan Appleby at the 2006 Pac-10 tournament, was not even allowed at Bank of America arena, so the former Franklin grad spent the night watching the game with family. He undoubtedly didn't like what he saw, as the Ducks 18-2, 6-2) fell behind early, came storming back in the second half, but eventually succumbed to Dentmon's will and a 2-3 zone that held UO in check.

Tonight's ballgame against the Oregon Ducks started with a decidedly Latin American flavor as the evening got under way at a packed Bank or America Arena. Oregon Coach Ernie Kent was notably absent from the floor until two minutes before that start of the ballgame entering to a rousing rendition of ‘Ole, Ole' as the Dawg Pac chanted "Donde esta Ernesto" while waving a giant Mexican flag.

Seventh-ranked Oregon has struggled on the road against Washington (12-7, 2-6), losers of their last six at the BoA, but the last Husky win over a top-10 opponent was last season against sixth-ranked Gonzaga. If Washington's game last Saturday against Washington State was any indication, the Huskies might as well have not shown up. Fortunately for Husky fans, the Dawgs came ready for a fiesta. In fact, their 51 first-half points scored Thursday night was four points more than they scored for their entire game against the Cougars.

They exploded out of the gate with a re-invigorated Dentmon (who also had 6 boards and 7 assists to go along with his 24 points), returning to the starting lineup for the first time since New Years Eve. With an obvious chip on his shoulder and an eagerness to prove he belonged back on the court, Dentmon led the early charge, racing the Dawgs to an early eight-point lead.

Jon Brockman (14 points, 8 boards) also looked to make a statement early on, chipping in six bruising points before falling silent until late in the second half.

The Ducks quickly responded, as freshman Tajaun Porter (9 first-half points) starting for the ineligible Brooks, and overflowing with a serious case of Napoleon Complex, heated up from outside. Meanwhile, the often overlooked Bryce Taylor, averaging 16 points and 5.2 rebounds a game, quietly led his team with 10 points in the half.

But the half belonged to Washington. Playing with a renewed energy, the Huskies seemingly had an answer for every Ducks run, led by Dentmon, whose dribble penetration was simply too much for the undersized Oregon front court to stop. On paper, the Dawgs advantage should have been underneath, but it was a combination of Dentmon and sharpshooter Ryan Appleby (16 points, 4-7 from three) that overwhelmed the Oregon early.

Surprisingly absent from the Oregon box score was Malik Hairston, who attempted no shots from the field in the half before being relegated to the bench after picking up his third foul in only 10 minutes. On the Washington side of the ball, both Spencer Hawes (15 points, 4 boards) and Quincy Pondexter (4 points, 3 boards) both struggled to get into the offensive flow of the game, though both made their presence felt on the defensive end.

20 minutes of energetic, minimal-turnover basketball resulted in a 51-40 advantage at halftime for the home team. But coming out for the second half, it was the Ducks' turn to come out firing on all cylinders. Taylor knocked down five unanswered points as the Dawgs saw their lead shrink to 4 points.

The Huskies defensive intensity, so effective in the first half, faltered under a steady barrage of Oregon three-pointers. Launching bomb after bomb, Malik Hairston (10 points, 4-6 from the field) and Champ Oguchi (15 points, 3-6 from three) unleashed hell on the Husky perimeter defenders from long range before fatigue and some timely Washington adjustments finally slowed the assault.

And at least for this night, Dentmon was not going to be denied.

He was the total package - on defense, rebounding, passing and of course his all-out attack toward the Oregon basket, ultimately stifling what momentum Oregon could generate. Despite turning the ball over six times, the beleaguered sophomore point guard turned in his best game of the season.

Hawes finally flipped the switch midway through the second half as his teammates found him wide open underneath for easy dunks.

It was also a good night for several Husky role players who made a significant impact on the game. From Hans Gasser, who drilled a three-pointer to stop a big Oregon run and also initiated a critical offensive foul, to Brandon Burmeister, whose steal at the end of the first half prevented an easy lay-in, denying the Ducks any halftime momentum - it was a total team effort that allowed Washington to turn the tables on the dreaded Ducks.

Surprisingly, the Dawgs turned the ball over a season-low 11 times while forcing 18, and holding the Ducks to a season-low 22 rebounds.

Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar has been talking about waiting for "it" to click. The wait might finally be over.
Points: Dentmon 24, Appleby 16, Hawes 15, Brockman 14, Nelson 7, Gasser 5, Oliver 4, Pondexter 4
Rebounds: Brockman 8, Dentmon 6, Hawes 4, TEAM 4, Pondexter 3, Appleby 2, Oliver 2, Gasser 2, Nelson 1, Wallace 1
Assists: Dentmon 7, Pondexter 3, Oliver 2, Brockman 1, Hawes 1, Gasser 1
Steals: Dentmon 3, Bumeister 2, Hawes 1, Pondexter 1
Blocks: No Blocks Top Stories