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Husky Men's Basketball Blog

Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies. E-mail Bob.

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February 24, 2006

Blazing into March

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:40 AM

So tell me, who really saw that coming?

I certainly didn't expect that the Huskies would blow out Stanford.

But what we saw Thursday night, as well as last Saturday at Oregon State, is how good this team can be when someone other than Brandon Roy really goes off.

Against the Beavers, it was Ryan Appleby catching fire and hitting five three-pointers.

Against Stanford, it was obviously Mike Jensen, who is the focus of our game story in the paper and online.

Take away just half of Jensen's six three-pointers, and this suddenly looks like a different game.

But that's the one thing the Huskies didn't have a lot of for much of the season — red-hot nights from players other than the regular scorers such as Roy, Jamaal Williams and Bobby Jones.

There's good reason to think it's not just a fluke for either Jensen or Appleby, either. Jensen appears to be completely rounding into form after missing about two months of practice and game time with the shoulder surgery.

Appleby is finishing up his first full season as a college player who is seeing regular action.

If you're wondering who might be next in rising up and catching fire, it's probably Jones, who has scored more than 10 points just once in the last eight games. He's too good to do that for too long.

As for the Pac-10 race, the Huskies could have really used a win by the Cougars over Cal, and they almost got it.

But now they can get it themselves Sunday in a game UW has to win to have any realistic chance at the Pac-10 regular season title. Lose it, and UW falls two behind Cal with two to go, and the Bears would also have the tiebreaker. The only thing that would potentially keep UW in the hunt in the event of a loss would be the possibility of multiple-team ties involving UCLA, whom the Huskies swept.

As for Stanford, I think the Cardinal are out of the NCAA Tournament hunt now unless it wins its last three games, plus wins two games in the conference tournament. Otherwise, this is now a four-bid conference at best with the four teams all but set. Arizona is the only team that really has cause to worry, though as I noted earlier, I think simply beating Arizona State and WSU at home will get the Wildcats in.

As for the Pac-10 race, one reader immediately e-mailed me as to whether I still think UCLA is the favorite to win it. Yes, unfortunately, I do. Their schedule plays out the best of the top three teams, though Cal would move into that role should it beat the Huskies Sunday.