SEATTLE (AP)—With a showdown looming this weekend against the Pac-10 leader, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar wasn’t happy with his No. 21 Huskies after their convincing win over Southern California.
Brandon Roy scored 25 points and Jamaal Williams responded with 15 after being pulled from the starting lineup to lead Washington to a quick start and cruising finish, 87-73 past sputtering Southern California on Thursday night.
“We don’t have any options on Saturday. We have to do it for 40 minutes,” Romar said.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating. But I’ve got to point back at myself as the head man to get it done. Tonight, it wasn’t a lack of effort. It was a lack of focus.”
The Huskies (17-5, 6-5 Pac-10) face conference leader UCLA on Saturday. Washington is in fifth place and trails the Bruins by 3 1/2 games, but beat them last month.
“We’ve got to stop trying to cruise so much,” Roy said. “Right now, we’re just doing SOME of the things it takes to win.”
Nick Young scored 28 points and Seattle-native Lodrick Stewart added 16 for the Trojans (15-8, 6-6), who were without second-leading scorer Gabe Pruitt. Pruitt is expected to miss at least three weeks with a left-knee injury he sustained in practice this week. He had averaged 25.7 points per game over the previous three games.
USC (15-8, 6-6) lost to Washington for the fifth consecutive time and looked lost for much of the game. They didn’t make a basket over the first 9:45.
“We are trying to adjust without Gabe,” USC coach Tim Floyd said. “We’re going to have to fight through and see what we can do with this lineup.”
Romar tried to inspire Williams, who didn’t start for the first time this season.
Williams, who had just two points in 19 minutes of Saturday’s loss at Washington State, responded Thursday night by making four of his first six shots adding two first-half blocks.
When asked if he was OK with not starting while classmate Mike Jensen does, Williams said, “I have no choice but to be. I just have to deal with it.”
With Williams scoring again, the Huskies looked focused enough. They led by 27 with 9:46 remaining.
But then the Trojans took advantage of wide-open 3-point shots to close to within 79-70 with 2:58 remaining. Dwayne Shackleford was 4-for-5 on 3-pointers during USC’s only spurt of the game.
Roy then made his own 3-pointer to squash that rally—but not his distaste for his Huskies still being unable to play a complete game.
Roy said he is “very concerned” and admitted to thinking he might miss the NCAA tournament in his senior season if he and his mates don’t get focused. Soon.
A better-than-.500 conference record is considered a must for Washington to get in.
“It’s scary,” he said.
Roy has been great lately. The Pac-10’s leading scorer in conference play surpassed 20 points for the fourth straight game.
He scored the last four points of the opening half to give Washington a 44-27 halftime lead. His first 3-pointer of the game 2:20 into the second half pushed that lead to 52-32. Roy then added another jumper and a free throw to put the Huskies up, 64-37, with just over 10 minutes left.
Meanwhile, USC looked more like the team that lost to CS-Northridge and Oral Roberts this season than the one that beat North Carolina.
Over the first nine minutes, the Trojans missed their initial nine shots, had players running into each other on offense and had six turnovers— including an errant pass that banged off Romar’s head at the Washington bench. They trailed 15-4—and didn’t recover until their late, fruitless push.
“Too cautious,” Floyd said of the wretched start.