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December 22, 2010Perhaps what's most scary about the Washington Huskies this season are games like the one they played Wednesday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
They were missing a key inspirational force in point guard Venoy Overton (hyper extended knee). Matthew Bryan-Amaning was having troubles making layups. And starting point guard Abdul Gaddy managed only two points.
Heck, even fan favorite Brendan Sherrer botched his only real chance at scoring with a turnover in the final minutes.
Yet, the Huskies blew out to a 20-point halftime lead, then blew away the Nevada Wolf Pack, 90-60, in their final non-conference tuneup before Pacific-10 Conference play begins.
Even when the Huskies look bad, they look good.
"You don't put your head down after getting beat by a great team," Nevada coach David Carter said. "I mean it is embarrassing, but you have to keep your head up and learn from it, because one day that is where you want to be."
Just imagine if Nevada faced a Washington team clicking on all cylinders.
As it was, Washington (8-3) was dominant enough, grabbing 13 more rebounds than Nevada (3-9) in the second half to finish with a 56-42 edge, while also sinking 11 3-pointers to the Wolf Pack's two.
Junior guard Isaiah Thomas had his best game of the season, scoring 24 points (four 3-pointers) with eight rebounds and four assists.
"I know the real season starts now," Thomas said. "You've got to come ready to play each and every game and each and every practice and just get better. Like I said, it was our last tuneup to Pac-10 play and I wanted to play a good game and be real aggressive."
Thomas' aggressiveness helped make up for a spark normally provided by Overton, but the senior point guard hyper-extended his knee in practice Monday. Coach Lorenzo Romar said Overton would be at full strength for the Huskies' Pac-10 opener at USC on Dec. 29.
"It was a little weird, but at the same time we have so much depth," Thomas said. "Not to say that we forgot about him, but there's always another guy."
Too many for Nevada's Carter to count.
As the Huskies started with a larger lineup for the second game in a row to improve rebounding, Bryan-Amaning and 7-foot center Aziz N'Diaye answered with strong performances. Bryan-Amaning, though not as fluid as usual, had 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks and N'Diaye pitched in 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Forward Justin Holiday had 12 points and nine rebounds, followed by true freshman Terrence Ross (nine points) and Scott Suggs(eight points).
Holiday left the game in the second half with an ankle injury. X-rays were taken as a precaution.
"I think he'll be fine," Romar said.
The Huskies had only five turnovers and now have just nine turnovers in their past two games.
"They dictated the entire pace of the game," said Carter, whose team shot 28.3 "The shots they took were really good. We didn't get back well. We didn't rebound well. I told the guys that Washington is a top 25 team. They are very strong and battle tested."
The Huskies know the real battles lie ahead with conference play looming.
Washington starts with the first two on the road in Los Angeles next week.
"Yeah it's something we look forward to," Bryan-Amaning said. "No disrespect to any of the teams we have played but we just know obviously the level is going to go up game in and game out. There's not necessarily going to be any blowouts. There's going to be tough games on the road and home."
The days of the snoozers are over.
"There's no more waiting around," Romar said. "There isn't any more experimenting. Here it is."