Updated Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Washington didn't just win a men's basketball game Saturday night, it survived an onslaught from Arizona State's Jahii Carson.
The sensational redshirt freshman point guard zipped around and through the Huskies' defense Saturday night. He made shots at the rim and on the perimeter, which left the UW players grasping at air and had the 8,417 at Alaska Airlines Arena holding their breath.
Clinging to a two-point lead in the final 14 seconds, the Huskies did what they were unable to do most of the night — they stopped Carson, who scored a career-high 32 points.
Scott Suggs redirected his path to the basket, but Carson lofted a high-arcing runner before falling to the court. But Washington's 7-foot center Aziz N'Diaye leapt high and got enough of the ball to knock it off course.
At the other end, C.J. Wilcox finished off the Sun Devils with two free throws, preserving a 96-92 victory that snapped Washington's four-game losing streak.
"We wanted to make sure we kept Carson in front and that Aziz was in position, if he drove, to defend the on-ball screen," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We wanted to make sure we went over the top of the on-ball screen, because if we went under, he could have hit the jumper."
In a thrilling game in which the teams combined for 188 points and Arizona State shot 63.8 percent from the field, it's odd the outcome was decided on a defensive stand against someone who converted 13 of 19 shots.
It's even odder that the Huskies scored a season-high 96 points 48 hours after they tied their season low during a 57-53 defeat.
They had difficulty explaining the 43-point differential or making sense out of a season when they started Pac-12 play 4-0 before losing four in a row.
At the midpoint of the conference schedule, Washington is 13-9 and tied for fifth with California in the league standings at 5-4.
"I would say this is probably the team you could see every night as far as defense and offense because we're all capable of making shots," redshirt freshman point guard Andrew Andrews said. "It's going to start falling for us any given day like it did today."
Romar was almost apologetic after the game.
"I'm ecstatic that we won," he said. "But I'm going to go against the grain of how I usually am — glass half-full. If we're not going to defend better, we can't expect to come out on top. I'll take it. If we'd have held them to 20 percent and lost, it would have been worse, so we'll take it for sure."
With Wilcox handcuffed offensively for the second straight game and forced to being a distributor, Shawn Kemp Jr. and Andrews carried the Huskies with career-high scoring performances.
Andrews finished with 20 and Kemp had 18. N'Diaye added 16 points and 10 rebounds and Scott Suggs had 14 points.
Wilcox tallied 10 points, nearly nine below his average, but he had a career-high seven assists.
Washington dominated inside, outscoring Arizona State in the paint 50-34 and winning the rebounding battle 36-20.
"We got crushed inside," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "We really got destroyed on the back boards. And we got beat in 50-50 balls. So despite doing a number of good things on offense, it was negated by those kinds of things on defense."
The Huskies, who have won six in a row against Arizona State, jumped on the Sun Devils early and never trailed.
But ASU overcame a 15-point deficit early in the second half and tied the score at 89-89 with 1:01 left when Jonahan Gilling (22 points) drained a three-pointer.
The Huskies regained a five-point lead when Carson converted a long three-pointer with 13.9 seconds remaining.
Washington picked up its second five-second violation on the next play that gave ASU and Carson a chance to tie or win the game.
"I just had to attack the rim," he said. "Guys weren't open and I had to get the best shot we could, and that's the one I took."
|ARIZONA ST. 92|
Attendance: 8,417. Officials: Mike Scyphers, Kurt Walker, Jim Giron.
DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Washington's Scott Suggs is fouled by Arizona State's Chris Colvin in the first half. Suggs scored 14 for UW, which led 52-44 at halftime.