TEMPE, ARIZ. - The Washington Huskies stretched their winning streak to three games, snapped a three-game road losing streak, and set the stage for a crucial game Saturday at Arizona.
All of that came from their 79-62 win Thursday at Arizona State.
But it came at a cost: a sprained medical collateral ligament (MCL) suffered by starting guard Scott Suggs in the opening minutes.
No prognosis was immediately available, but coach Lorenzo Romar said he doesn’t expect Suggs to be available for the showdown with the Pacific-10 Conference-leading Wildcats.
“We don’t know anything else and probably won’t know until probably the next day or two,” Romar said. “Any time someone can’t play, your depth goes down a little bit, but we’ve been through this before.”
Romar said he hasn’t decided who would take Suggs’ spot in the starting lineup. However, redshirt freshman C.J. Wilcox made a case for himself with his Thursday performance.
Midway through the first half, Wilcox started draining 3-pointers that seemed to jumpstart the Huskies, who had trailed by eight points early.
“When (Suggs) went down, me and Terrence (Ross) knew we were going to get more minutes, so we had to step up,” Wilcox said. “... Once you hit one shot. Coach is saying, ‘Be the hot hand.’ ”
Wilcox ended with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and no turnovers.
UW senior Matthew-Bryan Amaning found enough space in the ASU zone to contribute game highs with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Isaiah Thomas added 11 points and six assists, but his prime contribution was calming ASU’s Ty Abbott, who had 13 points in the first 12 minutes and was held to two more the rest of the way.
“We just had to play a little harder on defense and make things tougher for him, because he was getting some open shots,” Thomas said. “... I put it on myself. I was like, ‘He’s hitting.’ ... So I felt like if we stopped him, our lead would increase.”
It did. Steadily. All the way to 21 points about three minutes from the end. But by then many in the crowd of 7,263 already had drifted out of Wells Fargo Arena.
By the final buzzer, Arizona State (10-15 overall, 1-12 Pac-10) had suffered its ninth consecutive loss while surrendering season highs in rebounds (45), assists (21) and blocked shots (10).
The Sun Devils’ final flickers of life appeared early in the second half when Thomas and Abbott were hit with technical fouls. However, Thomas explained that his problem wasn’t with Abbott, but with ASU freshman forward Kyle Cain.
“He was hitting me all game, and I told the refs to watch it,” Thomas said. “And then he hit me that last time, and ... I ran after him and told him not to do that again. When I was taking (the ball) out, he acted like I wasn’t there and just ran through me. It was no biggie. I just wanted him to know not to do that again.”
Abbott picked up his technical when he saw Thomas running after Cain and darted between them. The ASU bench also picked up a technical.
The incident briefly ignited the crowd – and the Sun Devils, who scored four consecutive points. However, Romar called a timeout, warned his players that a potential turning point had arrived, and they raced away from there.
Washington moves to 18-7 overall and 10-4 in the conference. However, Arizona also got a win over Washington State on Thursday and moved to 22-4 and 11-2.
“Arizona is leading our league right now, they’re playing very good basketball, they’re playing at home, this is our last game on the road in the Pac-10,” Romar said. “There’s a lot at stake on our end: We’re trying to get to the NCAA tournament. This is a big game.”
Romar was asked if he wanted to enjoy the win at ASU before turning his attention to the big game that awaits Saturday.
“This one’s over,” he said. “Gotta get prepared for this Arizona game.”