CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Washington traveled nearly 3,000 miles to get to its NCAA tournament site.
Isaiah Thomas wasn't about to go back to Seattle so soon.
Thomas scored 19 points and helped break up a long pass in the final seconds that could have led to a tying 3-pointer. That helped the seventh-seeded Huskies hold off Georgia's late rally and beat the 10th-seeded Bulldogs 68-65 on Friday night in the second round of the East regional.
Washington Finds Its Identity
Inspired by Isaiah Thomas' leadership in the Pac-10 tournament, Washington has found a way to play with purpose, writes Andy Katz. Blog
"He's special every night," teammate C.J. Wilcox said. "He's our leader. He puts the team on his back and does whatever he has to do to win -- knocks down big shots, need a defensive stop, he does it."Scott Suggs added 10 points for the Huskies (24-10), who shot 43 percent and withstood a frantic final-minute push to win their fifth straight NCAA tournament opener and earn a spot opposite No. 2 seed North Carolina (27-7) on Sunday in the third round.
Trey Thompkins had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs (21-12), who trailed by 10 with 2 minutes left but made things interesting in the closing seconds.Thompkins hit a 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds remaining to make it 67-65 and Georgia fouled Wilcox with 3.7 seconds left. Wilcox made the first free throw but missed the second.Jeremy Price grabbed the rebound for the Bulldogs and flung the ball downcourt, and Thomas got a hand on the pass.
• Washington has advanced to the round of 32 in each of their past five appearances in the NCAA tournament.
• Georgia has lost in the round of 64 in seven of its past nine tournament appearances.
• Washington has won four straight and nine of its past 12 games overall.
• Isaiah Thomas led the Huskies with 19 points and seven assists.
• The Huskies' bench outscored the Bulldogs' bench 28-0.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"I just wanted to get a piece of the ball so that they couldn't get a good look at it," Thomas said.The Bulldogs didn't. Travis Leslie snatched it and hoisted an awkward 3 that bounced high off the glass after the buzzer."I tried to throw up a lucky shot, but it just didn't fall," Leslie said.Thomas, the MVP of the Pac-10 tournament last week after his buzzer-beating 18-footer in overtime won it for the Huskies, was 6 of 14 in this one."I just started seeing what their defense was doing. I told the guys, 'Once you make a couple of passes and reverse the ball, it was wide open," Thomas said. "I had one-on-one matchups and I took advantage of them."Thomas reached double figures for the 91st time in 104 career games for Washington, which entered with the nation's third-highest scoring offense but was held 15 points below its average of 83.5."Maybe it could have been the games where we have lost close games that we learned," forward Justin Holiday said. "It finally hit us that we're able to win close games, and we're not always going to be able to score. ... Realistically, it's not going to be a whole bunch of games where we flat come out shooting, hitting and blowing out everybody."The Huskies' 2,802-mile trip to their opening-weekend destination was the longest for any team in the tournament.Leslie and Gerald Robinson each scored 12 points and Price added 11 for Georgia, which got no points from its bench. The Bulldogs have one tournament win since 1996 and have gone one-and-done in four of their past five NCAA appearances.Neither team led by more than seven until early in the second half, when the Huskies finally managed to turn up the tempo against a Georgia team determined to slow things down."We felt like if we could control the tempo, we'd give ourselves a chance to win," Georgia coach Mark Fox said.Washington prefers a faster style, and turned 15 Georgia turnovers into 17 points while outscoring the Bulldogs 15-4 on the fast break. The Huskies appeared to pull away with a 17-5 run early in the second half and went up by double figures for the first time on Venoy Overton's drive through the lane that made it 45-35 with 12½ minutes left.Overton, who returned to the court after being suspended for the Pac-10 tournament, hit a layup with 2 minutes left to put the Huskies up 63-53 and in control.Or so it seemed."In the second half, we just kind of adjusted to how they were playing against us," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "It's what we wanted to do. They were very set-oriented, and they're a type of team where they get in a rhythm by running their sets. They can be pretty good offensively, so we tried to keep them off balance as best we could."