The necessary combination of wins and losses slipped into place Saturday, so the Washington Huskies wake up this morning a three-way tie atop the Pacific-10 Conference men’s basketball standings.
In the afternoon, UCLA lost at home to Arizona State, and California lost at Stanford.
By nightfall, the Huskies knew that they could move up alongside the Bruins and Golden Bears if they could only take care of business at Oregon State.
And they did so -- after an uncertain start -- blowing out the Beavers, 85-59, before a crowd of 6,648 at Gill Coliseum.
“That is a very good team there, I’m surpriesed they’re not ranked,” OSU coach Craig Robinson said. “… They’re the team that handled us the best this year. Even UCLA, when we lost that game we played them evenly in the second half. But this was a game where we seemed overmatched.”
The domination was most overwhelming the boards, where Washington won the rebounding battle, 46-19. Included in UW’s total was 17 offensive rebounds.
“I’m pretty proud of that,” said senior Jon Brockman, who matched Matthew Bryan-Amaning with a game-high nine rebounds. “We rebounded it well. Guys attacked the glass. That was a point of emphasis for us in the game, and to come out and get that done is nice.”
Brockman also led his team with 16 points, but four other Huskies scored in double figures.
Junior guard Seth Tarver scored 16 to lead Oregon State. No Beaver had more than three rebounds.
OSU (6-10 overall, 1-5 Pac-10) controlled the opening minutes, as its 1-3-1 zone seemed to give the Huskies trouble. For a long middle stretch of the half, Washington’s offense was reduced to sending up missed shots, then hustling down the rebound and scoring on a put-back.
However, the Huskies (13-4, 4-1) eventually started hitting shots over the zone, passing around it, or driving though it. They moved ahead 34-27 at halftime. Then they put Oregon State away by scoring on their first 12 possessions of the second half.
“The first half of the first half I thought it was like a boxing match where we were kind of feeling them out,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “… I felt once we settled down and figured out what was going on, I thought our guys did a great job of getting the ball inside. I thought we defended them well, we got good shots off of it, our guys were patient. I was just really pleased with how we went about our business.”
As for those Pac-10 standings, the Huskies took pride in breaking smartly from the gate, but they stressed that they understand the long race yet to run.
“We mentioned (being in first place) to our guys, but we also mentioned that we’ve only played five games,” Romar said. “It’s a long season and this is a start, this is just a start. We’ve put ourselves in a position to maybe do a good job in this conference. That’s all that means. They’re not handing out any trophies for the first five games.”
In the other locker room, Robinson said he gave his team an earful. He said he was especially disappointed in the lack of toughest shown by getting mauled so badly on the boards.
However, Robinson – the brother of Michele Obama, and therefore the brother-in-law of present elect Barack Obama – allowed himself some satisfaction from anticipating what his next few days should bring.
He will oversee a team practice today, fly to Washington, D.C., on Monday, attend the inauguration Tuesday, and then fly back across country Wednesday, meeting his team in the Bay Area where California awaits on Thursday.
“I wish I could have gone out there with a win in my pocket,” he said. “But … I’m just humbled by what’s going to take place on Tuesday. I’ve very excited, I know my family is excited. I’m sure my team’s not excited right now, but I’m sure they will be when Tuesday rolls around.”