Washington men's basketball tops Texas in 2015 Pac-12 China Game
SHANGHAI, China — Put the Pac-12 on notice. This young Washington squad looks legit.
Despite starting four freshmen in the first-ever regular-season NCAA men’s basketball game in China, the Huskies pulled off a 77-71 win over Texas in the inaugural Pac-12 China Game in Shanghai at Mercedes-Benz Arena on Saturday.
UW guard Andrew Andrews led the Huskies with 23 points, as he tried to put the team on his back at stretches throughout the contest. He also nailed a key 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 3:10 remaining that gave the Huskies a 71-67 advantage. After calling a timeout with just a couple seconds left on the shot clock, coach Lorenzo Romar drew up a play for Andrews, who buried the trifecta from the left wing, right in front of his teammates on the bench.
"There's something about Andrew," Romar said. "When the big shot is needed, he has the ability to knock it down. He's had the flair for the dramatic for a long, long time. He would be the one that we wanted to shoot that ball. That was a big, big shot. Texas, they started smell to blood down the stretch."
The back-and-forth affair featured some intense action in the final minutes after both teams went into the locker room at halftime tied 34-34. In the end, the Huskies were able to create big second-chance opportunities by way of 27 offensive rebounds, make key defensive stops and hit clutch free throws. Texas didn’t convert a field goal for the final 2:09 of the game.
The Longhorns briefly took a 65-64 lead with 4:48 left in the contest, but freshman Dejounte Murray answered right back with a bucket to put the Huskies back on top for good, thanks to an assist from fellow freshman Matisse Thybulle. In all, seven freshmen saw floor action for Washington, accounting for 64 percent of the team's minutes.
"It was huge. They didn't play like freshmen at all," Andrews said. "I remember last year when we kind of got into a bind or we would go down late after being up the whole game and we'd kind of cringe. But we didn't do that. That's really big-time for us, especially with a young group."
[Related: Complete Pac-12 China Game coverage]
Washington came out on a mission in the second half, as freshman forward Noah Dickerson converted an and-one attempt on the first possession after the break. It set the tone for an aggressive and energetic Huskies squad that was able to control the paint against a big, physical Texas team that featured imposing frontcourt players like Cameron Ridley (6-foot-10, 290 pounds) and Shaquille Cleare (6-8, 285).
The game started out as a sloppy one in the first half, as there were 23 fouls called before intermission. Dickerson picked up a couple of early fouls but it was almost a blessing in disguise as it pressed junior Malik Dime in to duty. Dime and fellow big men off the bench like freshman Devenir Duruisseau provided a nice spark for the Huskies and helped them outrebound Texas 62-to-49.
Dime totaled 10 points and 15 rebounds, Dickerson finished with nine points and seven boards and Duruisseau chipped in seven points and seven rebounds.
"Those guys were sensational," Romar said. "With Marquese [Chriss] and Noah in foul trouble in the first half, and them having to play extended minutes against that front line with Texas, I thought they did a marvelous job of maintaining their composure."
It was a great way to wrap up an epic week that brought the team from Hangzhou to Shanghai and back to the hardwood.
"Any time you make history, it's always great to be a part of something that big," Andrews said. "It shows you that it's bigger than yourself. I think us coming out here playing, it shows that U.S. basketball can grow. It's showing Chinese players that they can do what we do, which is kind of just acquiring athletics and being students as well. I think it's a big thing for our program."