BERKELEY, Calif. -- A few quick thoughts following Washington's fairly easy victory against Cal that moved the Huskies back into sole possession of first place in the Pac-10.
The Huskies are a deep-enough team that they don't need guard Isaiah Thomas to take over the scoring load, but they certainly won't mind it when he does. Not only did Thomas dish out 13 assists on Sunday night, but he also scored 27 points, including 18 in the first half. He also finished 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. The Huskies offense ran well through him as point guard, as the team shot 42 percent from 3-point range. Thomas hit three of them, and the Huskies extended a 48-33 halftime lead by opening the second half with Justin Holiday hitting back-to-back 3-pointers. With Thomas running the show, Holiday finished with 23 points and Matthew Bryan-Amaning contributed 22. UW shot 52 percent overall and 45 percent from beyond the arc.
Washington controlled this game all the way through, and it's no coincidence that Bryan-Amaning was playing some of his best basketball. The senior from England had lost his starting job for a time earlier this season, but has since rebounded and played well on both ends of the floor against California, finishing with 11 boards. With Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye in the lineup together, the Huskies have one of the more formidable frontcourts in the conference as long as N'Diaye, who fouled out with 8:24 left, learns to stay in the game. The Huskies dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Bears 43-27.
Washington guard Venoy Overton did not start after getting into the lineup the previous three games with Abdul Gaddy going down with a season-ending injury. Instead, junior Scott Suggs started for the first time in his career after coming off the bench for 68 previous games. Suggs shadowed Jorge Gutierrez, Cal's most dynamic player.
The Golden Bears are a different team following the transfer of freshman guard Gary Franklin, and the two other guards in Franklin's recruiting class have been directly impacted. Allen Crabbe appears more confident, and he came out firing on the heels of a career-high 30-point performance three days earlier in an overtime win against Washington State. He scored the team's first seven points and finished with 16, including two of them hanging in the air for a reverse layup. Emerson Murray is also playing more in the absence of Franklin, and he had a particularly good moment in the first half, scoring over the 7-footer N'Diaye and getting fouled. Still, the rookie mistakes that come with receiving early playing time are something the Bears are having to overcome.
Check back later in the night for more extensive coverage of UW-Cal, including a video interview with Washington guard Isaiah Thomas.