1st-half dogfight becomes 2nd-half Dawg food

Brandon Roy (AP)

With the Washington Huskies riding a six game winning streak and playing the league's worst team for a shot at a regular-season Pac 10 title, this game appeared to be a blowout before the ball was even tipped off. Someone forgot to tell Arizona State, who came out fired up in the first half against Washington, taking a 40-38 lead at the break.

Going into the half, it was clear what the Huskies had to do in the second half. The Devils had fueled by the hot shooting of Kevin Kruger, who finished the half with 19 points on 8 of 11 shooting, including a jumper over UW guard Ryan Appleby as time expired.

In order for UW to prevail, the Dawgs would have to put a stop to that. Another glaring factor in the first half was the absence of Brandon Roy, who managed just 7 points in 16 first half minutes. He also missed his first free-throw attempt, which meant he fell one short of tying Eldridge Recasner's UW career mark of But with the Huskies leading the assist and rebounding battles, it seemed like only a matter of time until they put the Sun Devils hopes to rest.

That 'matter of time' turned out to be the first five minutes, as Washington scored the first 11 points of the second half. After watching Kruger light up his team in the first half, Romar placed Roy - his best defender - on the Devils' sharp shooter, holding him to just 4 points the rest of the game.

Romar sung his star's praises after the 91-62 victory in Tempe. "I can't say enough about the job Brandon Roy did," Romar said after the game. "I've never been around anyone on the college level that can give you so much of what you need, because it's different on every night. He didn't score 20 tonight, but he played a good game, he rebounded, and he defended."

Romar reiterated Roy's outstanding leadership by saying how most stars would have gotten trigger-happy if they hadn't scored much, but Brandon kept passing and creating opportunities for his teammates.

Mike Jensen led all Huskies with 14 points, and besides Roy, Appleby, Jon Brockman and Jamaal Williams also chipped in 13 apiece. The Sun Devils' were led by the 23 of Kruger and a double-double by freshman forward Jeff Pendergraph. He finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

In the end, this game came full circle for the Huskies. In the first half, not one player was in double figures. By the final buzzer, five players had scored in double digits, with another (Jones) scoring nine. It's been seven games since the Huskies had five players finish in double-figures. The Sun Devils hot first half shooting (58 percent) cooled as well, as they shot below 30 percent in the second half, thanks to the Huskies increased intensity on defense.

The win gives Washington (22-5, 12-5) second-place all to themselves after UCLA defeated Cal at home Thursday night. A Stanford win over the Bruins Saturday, coupled with a Washington win over Arizona, would give the Huskies a share of the Pac-10 title and the No. 1 seeding going into the Pac-10 tournament.

The Huskies now head to Tucson, and with the team's pre-season goals still in sight, they clearly have a lot to play for. Senior Jensen realizes the challenge that lay ahead of them this Saturday and what it will take to win. "It's a mental preparation as well as physical preparation. We gotta be ready to go. We know that they're all gonna be pumped up for senior night, so we just have to come out and play our type of basketball."

"With that being said, hopefully the team plays more of the ball that they showed in the second half versus Arizona State. If they play against the Wildcats the way they played in the first half tonight, they'll be going home disappointed.
Statistics:
Points: Jensen 14, Brockman 13, Roy 13, Appleby 13, Williams 13, Jones 9, Wallace 6, Dentmon 3, Burmeister 3, Smith 2, Gasser 2
Rebounds: Roy 7, Jones 7, Williams 6, Brockman 4, Jensen 3, Dentmon 3, Smith 2, Gasser 2, Appleby 1, Wallace 1, Burmeister 1, TEAM 1
Assists: Dentmon 6, Roy 4, Jensen 2, Brockman 2, Jones 2, Burmeister 2, Smith 2, Appleby 1
Steals: Brockman 1, Roy 1, Appleby 1, Williams 1, Jones 1
Blocks: Roy 1, Wallace 1, Dentmon 1, Smith 1

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