The difference in talent was apparent from the opening tip. Grambling State of the Southwestern Conference had no answer for the superior size and length of the Huskies’ front court. The result was an 86-38 walkover win for the 16th-ranked Huskies Wednesday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Shawn Kemp Jr. scored 21 points, Andrew Andrews had 16 points and Nigel Williams-Goss dished out 11 assists as Washington improved to 9-0, its best start to a season since 11-0 in 2005-06. Coach Lorenzo Romar was extremely pleased with his team’s focus throughout.
“I was so proud of how we took that game possession by possession. Thirty-two field goals, 24 assists,” said Romar. “We were sharing the ball, we were not playing selfish at all.
“The score was irrelevant, we were trying to develop habits. I thought our guys played with great habits.”
With three players 6-foot-9 or taller (Jernard Jerreau, Robert Upshaw and Kemp) getting significant minutes for the Huskies against a Tigers squad with just one, it was a lopsided contest in the paint and on the glass.
Washington went on a 38-5 run over a 15:45 span in the first half after it fell behind 3-2 at the 17:20 mark. Taking advantage of its size, Washington controlled the glass with a 21-10 rebounding advantage, and the paint, out-scoring the Tigers 30-4 in the first half. Despite UW emptying its bench in the second half, those totals grew more pronounced.
Upshaw is one Husky playing with a lot of confidence. He had no equal in this game and he understood it. The 6-foot-10 forward scored 15 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had four blocks in 22 minutes.
Kemp knew the size advantage was everything.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Kemp Jr. said. “We’ve been talking about it. They are a smaller team, all we had to do was just throw the ball over the top pretty much.”
Grambling State (2-7) entered the game averaging 47 points while yielding 73 per game.. It entered with a 25 percent 3-point rate and shooting 64 percent from the line. Couple those shooting marks with 16 turnovers a game, and it’s easy to see why the Tigers suffered a 52-point loss to Purdue and a 42-point loss to Ball State in November. A’Torri Shine led Grambling State with 12 points.
Washington walked away feeling good heading into a top-25 showdown with No. 15 Oklahoma Saturday. Romar believes there is still room for growth.
“I think we can be better, but I don’t know how good we can be,” Romar said. “I know that we still haven’t been hitting on all cylinders offensively in games . . . And I still think there are a couple of individuals that can play better.”
One is Jerreau, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, a year removed from suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament that caused him to miss the 2013-14 season. Jerreau played 20 minutes and finished with four points. He had the same number of blocks as turnovers — three.
His coach believes Jerreau needs the time to regain confidence. Romar doesn’t seem to have any concern.
“He’s got to work through this,” Romar explained. “When you have some pride, like Jernard does, you work through these things.”