While it’s one of the highest-scoring teams in the nation, Washington still has been forced to pull out some narrow wins at home. It knows it cannot afford to fall behind in its first road game.
The undefeated No. 12 Huskies visit Lubbock on Thursday to take on Texas Tech, which is trying to open 8-0 for the first time in 70 years.
Washington (5-0) has played all of its games in Seattle, with three being decided by 10 or fewer points, including two by five or fewer. The Huskies pulled out a 63-59 win over Montana on Sunday, led by Venoy Overton, who came up with the crucial plays in the final minutes to avoid the upset.
Overton, who was benched after showing up 30 minutes late to a morning shootaround, made two free throws with 14.5 seconds left, then had a block on a potential tying 3-pointer with six seconds remaining. He made another free throw at the other end to clinch the game and finished with 10 points and four assists in 20 minutes.
“He’s in the offensive dude’s grill the whole game. He’s one of a kind. … It’s ridiculous,” said sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas, who scored 13 points despite starting 1 for 9 from the field.
The Huskies, off to their best start since winning their first seven games in 2006-07, had come in as third-highest scoring team in Division I, averaging 90.3 points and shooting 47.1 percent. They trailed by five going into the second half and finished shooting a season-worst 30.8 percent. Quincy Pondexter, who came in averaging 24.0 points, was held to a season-low seven points and 2 for 10 shooting.
Despite how poorly his team played, coach Lorenzo Romar believed there was much the Huskies could take away from the win as they prepare for their first road game.
“To me, this game provided some of the adversity that the road provides,” Romar said. “We shot 24 percent or whatever it was in the first half. We couldn’t get anything to fall. Those are some of the things that happen on the road. I’m glad we were able to play this game before we hit the road because it’s going to make us better mentally for Thursday night.”
Romar’s team could be in for a big fight against the unranked but undefeated Red Raiders (7-0), who are off to their best start since the 1995-96 team opened 7-0.
Texas Tech is coming off a 74-53 win over Samford on Saturday. The Red Raiders shot 54.7 percent and outrebounded the Bulldogs 35-20. Four players finished in double figures, led by John Roberson who scored 16. He also had nine assists and three steals.
Texas Tech has five players scoring 9.3 points per game or better, including three averaging in double figures. A different player has led them in scoring in each of the last five games.
Besides the depth of offensive weapons, the Red Raiders’ defense has also been a problem for opponents. They have held teams to 58.7 points this season and are looking for their second win over a Pac-10 opponent after beating Oregon State 64-60 on Nov. 15.
Texas Tech hasn’t opened a season 8-0 since 1920-30, when it won its first 12 games.
Washington leads the all-time series against Texas Tech 5-2. The teams last faced each other in 1990 with the Huskies winning 59-57.