The Washington Huskies' 30-21 halftime lead isn't quite as impressive as how they got it.
All season, UW coach Lorenzo Romar has had to entertain questions about using zone defense more than he typically has during his career.
There were questions about how hard the adjustment was for players. Questions about whether the zone minimized their defensive intensity. Questions about whether the zone was responsible for their three-game mid-season losing streak.
If there was trouble, people have latched onto the zone defense as the culprit.
Thankfully, Romar has been the coach during that time, not public opinion.
Ever the teacher, Romar has maintained that slowly implementing the zone over the course of the season could be a useful defensive tactic in certain scenarios, particularly with the addition of 7-foot center Aziz N'Diaye this season.
Tonight's game against the Oregon Ducks was one such scenario where Romar was able to use the zone in order to keep the opponent off-balance and contain a post player that could give them trouble. It worked extremely well in the latter portion of the first half to limit a previously hot Ducks offense and hold them to 34.6 percent shooting from the field. And despite Washington shooting only 41.7 percent from the field, the Huskies' defense has been the difference in the game. Nobody wearing a green uniform scored more than five points or hit more than two shots while the team shot 2-for-10 from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, the Huskies have gotten contributions from across the roster to build their lead. Darnell Gant helped defensively with a game-high six rebounds (all defensive) and added six points. Scott Suggs came off the bench to score a game-high 8 points on 3-for-3 shooting. And Isaiah Thomas had six points despite only shooting 1-for-5 had but more importantly had a game-high five assists, which matched the number for the entire Ducks squad.
Put simply, the Ducks rely heavily on ball movement to succeed and the Huskies' length in the zone concept denied that.