Tony Wroten scored 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a Pac-12 opening win.
Tony Wroten turned the ball over on Washingtons first possession Thursday night.
Then, he thought what everyone else was thinking.
I was like, Oh, my God, here we go again Tony, Wroten said.
Wroten, for all of his emphatic scoring with his powerful left hand, stumbled into the Pac-12 opener with his warts. His 49 turnovers outweighed his 35 assists entering the game.
Forget that. Thursday night was a wunderkind performance by Wroten that would leave Doogie Howser red with envy.
Wrotens 26 points, nine rebounds, fours assists and two — read it, two — turnovers pushed Washington (7-5, 1-0) past Oregon State (10-3, 0-1) 95-80 in the Pac-12 opener for each Thursday night in Hec Ed.
Many spent the evening at home watching Washington and Baylor make cases for multiple offseason firings on the defensive side of the ball. They missed Wrotens most efficient night of the year.
Following his initially botched foray, Wroten turned the ball over just once more. This was not against minimalist competition like Houston Baptist, but against Oregon State, which is fifth in the country in steals.
It was the second game the 18-year-old had more assists than turnovers. It was the first game he didnt throw ball away when attempting a no-look pass.
Three were on point. Zoomed at angles into open space for three dunks. Desmond Simmons, Aziz NDiaye and Darnell Gant were merry holiday recipients.
Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar was thrilled with the execution.
Sometimes that happens as you get older, Romar said. Its not like hes 22 all of a sudden, but he has had 11 games under his belt. The really talented ones, they learn to figure it out.
This is a different type of game, its more wide open. Oregon will probably be a slower pace, but I thought it really showed that hes made substantial improvements in terms of impact on winning.
Ah, theres the key phrase: impact on winning.
For all the shine Wroten displayed in prior games, his overall positive impact was rightly questioned.
Too many bad decisions. Too much lackadaisical defense. Too much to learn.
It made him an unintentionally divisive figure.
The criticism was harsh, and discounted his age, elevating expectations for his play to an unfair level.
The blind support was equally misguided. Wrotens overall value was not reflected solely in his points. Many of his mistakes were left out of a boxscore.
But Thursday, that was an epiphany both sides can walk away from wondering what Wrotens ceiling is.
Hes comfortable in the post, presenting a daunting matchup conundrum for opposing coaches with mini guards. It was a problem for Oregon State. Only once during the night was Wroten not able to bully his way to the rim, and that was when Jared Cunningham held his ground after a defensive switch.
Im real comfortable there, because ever since Ive been young, I was taller than the average point guard, Wroten said. Me and Terrence (Ross) are always working on post moves.
Wroten even made five of his seven free throws. It was Abdul Gaddy efficiency, but with 26 points.
He is darn good, Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. That is why everyone had him being one and done. He is strong and he has a good way about him even though he is young. He has a mature way about him.
Gaddy, it should be noted, had another skilled performance. Six assists, 13 points, two turnovers. Lacking Wrotens flair by no means confirms inability.
Washington led by 20 points in the first half. It held off Oregon State, which, despite a laughable non-conference schedule, was being touted as a sudden Pac-12 front-runner. The Huskies got everything they wanted offensively.
It was just 40 minutes Thursday night. Though its likely to prove monumental for previously sliding Washington and Wroten.
At least until Saturday.