SEATTLE — Judging from Jernard Jarreau’s breakout performance in Washington’s 65-57 win over USC on Wednesday, maybe coach Lorenzo Romar should have played him in their first meeting three weeks ago.
The 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman didn’t play in the 11-point defeat in Los Angeles, which left him seething on the sideline.
“That was back when I wasn’t playing and I was just sitting on the bench and figuring things out,” he said. “I always have confidence coming off the bench and believe I can bring energy right away and help my team as much I can.
“They didn’t see me the first game so they were probably skeptical about what I can do. They just played me the way they played me and I was able to knock down a shot, attack them and be aggressive. I don’t think they were expecting that.”
Hardly anyone expected Jarreau, who only recently has been reinserted into the rotation, to come off the bench and provide the spark for Washington’s third straight victory.
Working at the high post, he drained two midrange jumpers to soften USC’s defense. However, Jarreau, who finished with a personal-best 12 points, did his best work in the low post where he drew fouls and at the free-throw line where he was 8 for 8.
“The main thing was being aggressive,” he said. “Keep attacking and not settling. We took it to them an that was the difference.”
The Huskies also received another big scoring night from senior guard Scott Suggs, who finished with 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting. He has scored 57 points in the past three games.
Suggs unlocked a 41-41 tie with a short hook shot to begin a 7-0 UW spurt with 10:06 left. The Huskies led 48-41 before the Trojans scored again at the 5:43 mark.
Washington (17-13, 9-8 Pac-12) never trailed after the run and led by as much as 10 points with 50 seconds remaining when Andrew Andrews buried a three-pointer. It was his second long jumper on consecutive possessions for UW.
Things got a little bizarre for the Huskies in the final minute. They committed a pair of turnovers (C.J. Wilcox threw a bad pass and Andrews stepped out of bounds) giving USC the ball down six with 38 seconds on the clock.
However, Wilcox atoned for his miscue with a steal.
He finished with 11 points, scoring the final four for the Huskies at the line to secure the win.
“We’re definitely getting close to playing the way that we’re supposed to play, especially at the right time,” Wilcox said. “Our team usually does it but we start a little late; it seems like we’re starting to get the ball rolling.”
Washington has won four of its past five games. The Huskies attributed their latest victory to their marksmanship at the free-throw line (17 of 22 for 77.3 percent) and a 48-29 edge on rebounds.
Still it was Jarreau who stole the show.
He used his length to disrupt USC’s offense and tallied three rebounds and two blocks. When Jarreau rejected Eric Wise’s layup at the rim midway in the second half, the crowd of 7,753 at Alaska Airlines Arena exploded.
“He just did a lot of good things,” Romar said.
The rematch between Washington and USC followed a similar script to their first meeting.
Wilcox struggled to shake free from pint-size point guard Jio Fontan, who harassed him all night despite dealing with an injured right hand.
With their leading scorer handcuffed, the Huskies relied on Suggs who once again carried the offense.
Just like their first game, Dewayne Dedmon 18 points and J.T. Terrell 16 points led USC (14-16, 9-8) in scoring.
The difference this time: Jarreau.
“I’m not going to say if I had played we would have won that game,” he said laughing. “I’m happy we won this one.”