Huskies hit rest of season with open eyes

An embarrassing loss at USC apparently got the attention of the Huskies (14-7, 4-5). An aggressive visiting Washington State team made sure the Huskies didn't lose their focus. After venting some frustration in a 123-76 non-conference laugher over city rival Seattle, the Huskies spotted in-state rival Washington State a four-point halftime lead before taking flight.

By the time it was over, UW owned a 92-64 victory that keeps alive its postseason dreams.

The Cougars never backed down, even knocking down UW star Quincy Pondexter at one point.

"For the guy to come down and kind of level me a little bit, it really opened our team's eyes to what kind of game we were in," Pondexter said. "We realized we had to fight for each other, battle for each other."

Even before the game, first-year WSU coach Ken Bone -- a former UW assistant -- could almost see it coming.

"They're a team as good as anybody in the conference and maybe even the country at playing on their home court," he said. "They are absolutely relentless. At home those kids are a little bit different than they are on the road, so we're preparing for the UW at home.

"They're able to play much more physical at home, and on the road I don't think they get away with the physicality."

While they are 0-5 on the road, the Huskies are 14-1 in Seattle.

Senior forward Quincy Pondexter said the Huskies are playing with urgency.

"It's 9-1-1 and we really have to turn it on," he said. "With the season winding and getting closer to February, it's time where teams need to start clicking to get in the NCAA tournament.

"We have to string (together) some wins and we have to just play smart basketball together and hopefully everything clicks and we're in the NCAA tournament."
--Washington was up 61-20 at halftime and led by as many as 47 points of its win over Seattle. The game featured 78 fouls, 45 of them by the Redhawks, who had seven players foul out and played the final 1:27 with just four players.
--The Huskies used a 22-4 run early in the second half against Washington State to erase a four-point deficit. Amazingly, senior Quincy Pondexter had none of those 22 points.

ON THE SPOT: Let's face it, the Huskies have not shown they can win on the road (0-5), so they need to maximize their opportunities at home (14-1). They cannot afford to trip up either against Arizona or Arizona State this week at Bank of America Arena, because they return to the cold, hard road soon enough.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We played hard (and) played unselfish. That's the difference. ... If we do that, we can win some games." -- Sophomore Isaiah Thomas after the win over Seattle.
SEASON RECAP: The Huskies were breezing along at 10-1 through the end of the non-conference schedule -- the Pac-10's only nationally ranked team -- and then they staggered a bit in a six-point win over Oregon State. That should have foreshadowed bigger problems against Oregon, which sliced through their press and pulled the 90-79 upset victory. The real problem is on the road, where UW is 0-4 in the Pac-10 and has yet to play in the Bay Area, where Cal and Stanford boast combined home records of 20-3.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Quincy Pondexter, F Tyreese Breshers, F Justin Holiday, G Abdul Gaddy, G Isaiah Thomas. Key Subs -- G Venoy Overton, F Darnell Gant, C Matthew Bryan-Amaning, G Scott Suggs.

   USC 87, Washington 61
   Washington 123, Seattle 76
   Washington 92, Washington State 64
   vs. Arizona, Thursday, Feb. 4
   vs. Arizona State, Saturday, Feb. 6
   at Cal, Thursday, Feb. 11
   at Stanford, Saturday, Feb. 13
   vs. USC, Thursday, Feb. 18
IN FOCUS: The Huskies expect to continue their winning ways at home this week, but will have special focus on Saturday's matchup with Arizona State. The Sun Devils handed them one of their most decisive setbacks last month, a 68-51 decision in which UW scored a season-low point total and shot just 36 percent. They'll have to do a better job defending ASU's Rihards Kuksiks, who scored 27 points, and they'll have to avoid fouling 27 times, which allowed the Sun Devils to shoot 38 FTs.

--Sophomore G Isaiah Thomas sat out the Seattle game with a stomach illness, the first game he's missed in his UW career. He returned against Washington State to contribute 19 points, 11 of them during a decisive run to start the second half.
--Senior F Quincy Pondexter, coming off a 1-for-10 shooting performance in the loss to USC, responded with 27 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Seattle, then had 29 points and 12 rebounds in the win over WSU.
--Junior G Venoy Overton shot 16-for-19 from the FT line and scored 20 points against Seattle.
--Sophomore G Elston Turner scored a career-high 20 points vs. Seattle. Top Stories