For the second consecutive game, the Washington Huskies were involved in a game with a dramatic finish.
And UW guard Isaiah Thomas was again a participant in a big play.
After Georgia made a late run that came down to free throws and missed free throws to cut the lead to three, an outlet pass with under three seconds left was deflected by Thomas and forced the Bulldogs into a tough three at the buzzer that fell short and secured a 68-65 win for the Huskies in opening round play.
Although it was late-game drama that might have made the game representative of the annual madness in March, it was the Huskies' ability to establish their transition game in the second half that won this game after a first half in which neither Georgia nor Washington was able to consistently impose their will on the game. After struggling to make shots in the first half, the Huskies found their rhythm in transition, which created the type of shooter's confidence that they talked about over the past few weeks and helped them shoot 53.8 percent in the second half.
But that was all made possible by doing a much better job of pressuring Georgia guards into poor decisions and turnovers while the Huskies finished the game with five total turnovers. After a slow start, Isaiah Thomas turned it on in the second half to finish with 19 points and seven assists, complemented by Scott Suggs' 10 points. Trey Thompkins led the way for Georgia with a game-high 26 points to go with 11 rebounds, which marks a better job of UW in the paint in the second half: Thompkins was held to only three rebounds.
Perhaps we can't say that the Huskies have regained the confidence that had people expecting them to win the Pac-10 regular season title early in 2011, but we can say that performances like they had in the second half tonight are encouraging for the team as they move forward - not only did they bounce back and find their shooting stroke as they did early in the year, but their defensive intensity overwhelmed the opposing guards and helped them establish their style of play.