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February 17, 2012The Arizona State Sun Devils entered Thursday night's game giving up just 65 points per game, so the Washington Huskies were expecting a tough, defensive battle.
They didn't get it.
Behind a fast, up-tempo performance that mirrored Lorenzo Romar's teams of old, the Huskies trounced the Sun Devils, 77-69, at Alaska Airlines Arena. And the final score is much closer than it was all game, as the Huskies jumped out to a lead as big as 24 points early in the second half.
The Huskies forced 18 turnovers, turned those turnovers into 30 points, shot 53 percent from the field and knocked down eight 3-pointers in what was a thorough, dominating performance.
A thorough, dominating first-half performance, that is.
"It was a tale of two halves," Romar said. "I thought we were, with the exception of too many turnovers in the first half, really efficient. In the second half, it appeared we lost focus and didn't handle that (big) lead as well as we should have. I don't like the way we finished the game."
Nonetheless, a win is a win and Washington moved to 18-8 overall and 11-3 in Pac-12 play, as they remain in a tie with California for first place in the conference.
Arizona State dropped to 8-18 overall and 4-10 in the conference.
Four players reached double-digit scoring for Washington's balanced attack, led by Terrence Ross, who had 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go along with five rebounds.
Possibly even more important for Washington, C.J. Wilcox appears to be nearing his pre-injury form. The sophomore knocked down a bunch of jump shots and was 2-of-6 from 3-point range on his way to 14 points and some nice defensive plays.
"We need him," said point guard Abdul Gaddy. "We need him to win games."
Tony Wroten chipped in 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and six steals, Aziz N'Diaye had 12 points, Darnell Gant had 9 and Gaddy tied a career-high with eight assists.
Up next for the Huskies is third-place Arizona on Saturday at noon.
"It's big," said senior Darnell Gant. "(Arizona) is a good team and we've formed a little rivalry. Whenever we play them, the intensity just gets amped up and we have to be ready to go on Saturday."
The intensity will obviously be there, but are the Huskies playing well enough to keep up with the white-hot Wildcats, who haven't lost since Washington beat them three weeks ago?
"What we did in the first half will make us competitive against any team we play," Romar said.