"It was a little weird, but at the same time we have so much talent," Thomas said of not having Overton available to play. "Not to say that we forgot about him, but there’s always another guy."
He forgot to mention himself. With Pac-10 play a week away, Thomas turned it up a notch, benefitting from kickouts to the three-point line, where he cashed in for four treys and 24 points overall to lead the Huskies (8-3) in scoring.
"I've said many times, Isaiah is a guard that can do a lot of different things," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "If he has to run the team, he runs the team. He's talented enough to adjust his game and adapt to the situation."
"We weren’t contesting any shots, and you can’t do that against a really good shooting team like Washington." Nevada Head Coach David Carter added.
When the UW big men - Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye were available in the paint, they took advantage, each coming away with double-doubles for their effort. Bryan-Amaning scored 16 points and hauled in 11 rebounds, while N'Diaye had 11 and 10, respectively. Justin Holiday nearly had his own double-double, with 12 points and nine rebounds.
"As basketball players, you do have some pride and you start to say enough is enough," Romar said of the Huskies' rebounding effort. "But we're also playing more guys that can rebound. Usually we've been a pretty good rebounding team, but this year we just hadn't been as much. I think the personnel has made a difference."
Dario Hunt paced the Wolf Pack (2-9) with 16 points, while Deonte Burton scored 14 and Malik Story 11.
"With the exception of us not containing the dribble and allowing too much penetration - which led to too many free throws for the Nevada team - I was really pleased with how our team played tonight," Romar said.
Washington used Nevada's selfishness against them in the first half. The Wolf Pack had no first-half assists, as the Huskies fronted against every pass and forced Nevada to try and create something on the dribble. Hunt was able to keep them in the game early on, especially from the free throw line.
Because there were so many forced shots from Nevada, Washington was able to rebound the basketball on the defensive end and run the Wolf Pack into the ground. In addition, Washington was also able to get a lot of hands on passes, forcing 25 first-half deflections that UW was able to turn into points.
"We chart deflections every game. It's very interesting. When we chart this stuff, you can look at one stat with our team - deflections - and if we have a lot of deflections, we usually play pretty good basketball. I think that has a lot to do with how we played," Romar said.
Eventually they ran out of steam from UW's fronting pressure, and the Huskies went on an extended 23-11 run from the under-8 television timeout to the half. They finished the half on a 6-0 run, punctuated by a C.J. Wilcox made three-pointer with two seconds remaining.
Conversely, the Huskies continued to play efficient basketball, only turning the ball over twice in the first half, and five times overall. In the last two games, Washington's assist-to-turnover ratio is a remarkable 39/9. Without Overton Wednesday night, the UW guards were still a rock-solid 13/1 in that category.
"With as many possessions that we have each game, we're OK with 13 turnovers a game," Romar said. "We don't want any more than that, but anything 13 or under, we're comfortable with that given the number of possessions. If you get it in single-digits, it's a really good job. You have to give credit to Abdul, Venoy and Isaiah for taking care of the basketball."
The beginning of the second half was more of the same, with UW crashing the boards on both ends of the court, and making extra passes that created easier looks from outside. They ran out to a 57-30 lead after a made Thomas three-pointer with 16:04 left to play. They continued to stretch their advantage, and after two three-pointers by Scott Suggs - the second one coming at the 7:43 mark - they were up 39.
"Yeah coming out I just wanted to play aggressive, not just to score but to make plays," Thomas said. "This is our last tune up to the Pac-10 and I got to just be more aggressive, and I did that tonight. I took what the defense gave me and we played well."
Up 81-42 the Dawgs were called off. In the end, UW came up with 56 rebounds to keep any Wolf Pack runs at bay. The most Nevada had given up to any opponent to date was 42, against Pacific. "I thought our guys did a tremendous job on the backboard," Romar said. "That team has been pretty good on the boards, and I thought we dominated the boards tonight."
That being said, Pac-10 play starts out on the road, and these Hoop Dawgs are 1-3 in games played on road or neutral courts. Their last test was a heartbreaking 63-62 loss at Texas A&M.
"The A&M game, I thought we took a step back," Romar said. "And I don't want to discredit A&M; you watch the rest of their games and they have a way of making it close. It's hard to get away from them. But I think we took a step back, but we've now taken two steps forward to where we've built ourselves back up. Now we have to take it on the road and see. There's no more waiting around; there's no more experimenting. Here it is."
"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," Bryan-Amaning said. "There’s not necessarily going to be any blow outs. There’s going to be tough games on the road and home."
Injury report: Romar on Venoy Overton's status: "Venoy will be fine. He probably could have played tonight. Just decided to wait. He'll be 100 percent by conference."
Holiday took a spill near the end of the game, but was able to shake it off and limp to the bench. Romar said the trainers took 'precautionary' x-rays on his right ankle, but he expects the senior forward to be fine. "The timing of it, where we don't play again until next week - we won't practice for a couple of days. We're not really that concerned," said Romar.
Points: Thomas 24, Bryan-Amaning 16, Holiday 12, N'Diaye 11, Ross 9, Suggs 8, Gant 5, Wilcox 3, Gaddy 2
Rebounds: Bryan-Amaning 11, N'Diaye 10, Holiday 9, Thomas 8, Ross 4, Gant 4, Gaddy 3, Wilcox 3, Suggs 2, Sherrer 1, TEAM 1
Assists: Gaddy 5, Thomas 4, Bryan-Amaning 2, Holiday 2, Wilcox 2, Suggs, 1, Ross 1, Gant 1
Steals: Holiday 3, Bryan-Amaning 2, Ross 2
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 4, Holiday 1, N'Diaye 1, Suggs 1