18-0 blitz in second half overwhelms undermanned Trojans; Wroten handles well an injury to lead Washington with 13 points and eight assists.
It was Tony Wroten who was playing sore, but his Washington teammates had a figurative limp for a good part of a disjointed game before a late 18-0 run crushed undermanned USC 69-41 Saturday night, which put the Huskies in sole possession of the Pac-12 Conference lead.
After California lost at home to Arizona earlier in the day, the Huskies (16-7, 9-2) are atop the heap for the first time this season.
Wroten, who was questionable to play because of a thigh bruised Thursday in the 71-69 win over UCLA, had 29 well-controlled minutes and produced 13 points, eight assists, six rebounds and one turnover. The defense held the Trojans, missing five scholarship players due to injuries, to the lowest UW opponent total of the season. It was the fewest points in a league game since 1996.
Wroten said he was still hurting, but that’s part of the deal.
“I’m banged up a lot,” he said. “Its still sore and all, but you know, I feel good. Sitting down a lot at halftime, it gets stiff. Ive been kneed before, but Ive never had a contusion like this where it hurt like this. But its not major. I just have to keep rehabbing it and Ill be fine.”
The home sweep of the LA schools made for 11 wins in the past 13 games as well as a happy head coach.
“This was a really good game for us,” said Lorenzo Romar. “We havent had one of these in a long time where we were able to go out and really, really compete, yet give some other guys an opportunity to get out there on the floor. With the exception of too many turnovers, we handled ourselves pretty good tonight.
“(USC) depends a lot on (5-7 point guard) Maurice Jones, and I thought we did good job containing him. We tried to cover him with just one guy, and that may have disrupted him a little bit.”
That one guy was primarily Wroten.
“Tony played a complete game,” Romar said. “With eight assists to one turnover, that’s maturity with Tony. I’m just proud of the way he’s developing.”
Down 29-19 at the half, the Trojans kept the deficit at 10 with less than 15 minutes left, but Washington’s height advantage and greater depth took their inevitable tolls. USC (6-18, 1-10), with only one player taller than 6-6, was out-rebounded 52-23, and didn’t hit a three-point shot until less than two minutes were left, finishing 1 for 16 behind the arc.
Of USC’s injury situation, Romar said, “That’s just not possible for that to happen. I commend (coach) Kevin O’Neill for how he’s handling situation. He’s not beating down on his players, he comprehends the situation he’s in.”
Garrett Jackson led USC with 15 points. Washington’s Terrence Ross, the hero of the Thursday night win over UCLA with 18 of his 22 points in the second half, had only 10 points but contributed a career-high 14 rebounds.