SHANGHAI (AP) — Washington coach Lorenzo Romar has had important road victories in his basketball career, just never one quite this far away.
Andrew Andrews scored 23 points to lead the Huskies to a 77-71 victory over the Texas Longhorns on Saturday in the first-ever regular-season men’s basketball game played in China.
Washington led by as many as 9 in the second half before the Longhorns rallied to take a 65-64 lead with two free throws by Javan Felix with 4:48 remaining.
After Andrews hit a 3-pointer to put the Huskies back up by 4, Texas pulled within 2 when Isaiah Taylor drove to the basket for a layup to make it 73-71 with 2 minutes remaining.
The Longhorns couldn’t get another shot to fall, though, and Washington closed it out by making free throws down the stretch.
“It’s something about Andrew when the big shot is needed, he has the ability to knock it down,” Romar said of Andrews’ final 3-pointer. “He’s had a flair for the dramatic for a long, long time so he would be the one that we wanted to shoot that ball. Texas, they started to smell blood down the stretch, you could just see it.”
Malik Dime added 10 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for the Huskies, and freshmen Marquese Chriss scored 14 points and Noah Dickerson had 9 points and six rebounds.
“They didn’t play like freshmen at all,” Andrews said of Chriss and Dickerson. “It’s really big-time for us, especially with a young group that they weren’t down on themselves, they just came back and we just started making plays when it mattered the most.”
Taylor had 29 points and seven rebounds to lead Texas.
“I think we played not to make a mistake, not to miss a shot and that took away from our aggressiveness,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “I didn’t think we responded particularly well when stuff didn’t go our way — foul trouble, the other team making a run. So we’re kind of fighting from behind for most of the game.”
Both teams arrived in China earlier this week and spent a day at the Hangzhou headquarters of Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group, which partnered with the Pac-12 Conference to organize the game.
Romar said his trainers got the team accustomed to the time difference by having them stay awake until 2 a.m. their first night in China, then 3 a.m. the second night and 4 a.m. the third night.
“It all paid off. I think we adjusted very quickly to the time difference and the travel. The pressure’s on (the trainers) now to make sure we do it on the way back,” he said with a smile.
There weren’t a lot of purple or orange shirts in the crowd of 7,188 at Shanghai’s Mercedes Benz Arena and not much loyalty to either team, aside from small contingents of fans from either school behind the benches. The arena was extremely quiet when each team shot free throws, as well, with only a few people offering up the usual distractions or screams.
But the spectators seemed entertained by the game nonetheless, gasping with shot blocks and applauding scrambles for the ball on the court. Another American import, the Kiss-Cam, also got a big reaction from the crowd, as did retired Chinese NBA star Yao Ming, who posed for photographs with cheerleaders and the mascots for both teams on court.
“Maybe at the professional level, they can make more shots,” said laywer Huang Yiyun, who works for a Seattle-based law firm in Shanghai and was wearing a Washington T-shirt in the crowd. “But the game was really well-organized — better than Chinese Basketball Association games. We also got these free T-shirts!”
Stanford and Harvard have already been lined up to play each other next year in a regular-season game in Shanghai.
Washington: The Huskies are now 12-2 in season openers under coach Lorenzo Romar … The team had not opened its season at a neutral site since the 1986-87 season when it faced Utah State in the Great Alaska Shootout. … Washington’s roster is the youngest in the Pac-12, with the most players under the age of 20 (nine) and 19 (four).
Texas: Smart made his debut as head coach of the Longhorns after spending six seasons at VCU. … Before Saturday’s loss, Texas had won 13 straight season openers. … Texas plays later this month in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas before going on the road to play at Stanford. The total mileage for all three trips (including China) will be 20,488 miles.
Washington: Mount St. Mary’s on Thursday
Texas: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday
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