SEATTLE — Two freshmen with completely different skills and an assist from an archrival salvaged what could have become a disastrous weekend for Washington.
Instead, the Huskies are just a half-game out of first place in the Pac-12 Conference.
Tony Wroten scored 21 points in one of the most efficient performances of his freshman season, football tight end-turned basketball forward Austin Seferian-Jenkins made an impactful debut and the Huskies overwhelmed Stanford 76-63 on Saturday afternoon.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar earned his 300th career victory and 100th conference win at Washington, to which the coach joked the key was "don't get fired."
Having talent like Wroten certainly helps avoid unemployment.
"Most teams don't have a guy that matches up well with him. He's one of the best players in the nation," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "You know, he's a hard cover for anybody.
Wroten made all five shots in the second half as the Huskies used a 20-3 run that included 13 straight points, to pull away and bounce back from a disappointing three-point loss to California on Thursday night.
At almost the same time as the Huskies (12-7, 5-2 Pac-12) were dispatching the Cardinal, rival Washington State knocked off the Golden Bears across the state in Pullman. Instead of California being the clear Pac-12 leader about a month into conference play, there are four teams at the top with just two conference losses.
"We came out with a sense of urgency. The (California) game felt like it was bigger, and if we had won, we would have gone right into first place and we didn't capitalize on it," Washington forward Darnell Gant said. "This game, we focused on ourselves and bouncing back and getting this one done."
Wroten was nearly unstoppable when he wanted to get to the basket. By going to his dominant left hand, Wroten scored at the rim constantly, and Stanford never made the adjustments needed until it was far too late.
Wroten assisted on a pair of lob dunks and for the first time in five games had more assists (four) than turnovers (three). He made 9 of 14 shots and also grabbed five rebounds.
Terrence Ross scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half for the Huskies, and Gant rebounded from missing all nine shots against Cal to score 17 points off the bench and make 7 of 11 shots.
And yet, they all seemed to take a back seat to the debut of Seferian-Jenkins.
The 6-foot-6, 258-pound star tight end joined the basketball team less than two weeks ago. During Seferian-Jenkins' first practice, Romar recognized that he could bring something different to the Huskies' lineup.
Romar used just seven players on Saturday. Seferian-Jenkins played 16 critical minutes against one of the best rebounding teams in the Pac-12. He provided bruising screens and another physical presence on the interior when 7-foot center Aziz N'Diaye was out of the game.
Seferian-Jenkins didn't score and eventually fouled out. But he grabbed seven rebounds, had one assist and one steal. The Huskies outrebounded Stanford - who led the Pac-12 in rebounding margin - 47-32.
"You just hope every game you're going to get in and eventually it happened, and it was fun," Seferian-Jenkins said.
Washington led just 43-38 five minutes into the second half when the Huskies' decisive run began. It started with Gant tipping in a miss from Ross and was followed by Gant's 3-pointer. It was then Ross' turn for five straight points, the first on a lob dunk from Wroten, which brought Huskies football coach Steve Sarkisian out of his seat behind the basket, and a deep 3-pointer to push the lead to 13. By the time the run ended on Aziz N'Diaye's lob layup, the Huskies' lead was 63-41.
"That was a huge potential turning point for our team because that hasn't happened very often this year. Ten-point lead, then it goes down to six, five and maybe we win by one or two or don't win," Romar said. "We extended that lead after a couple of timeouts. I thought that was really good."
Josh Owens and Aaron Bright led Stanford (15-5, 5-3) with 14 points each.
Stanford's problem in the first half was simply missing shots. During one stretch of almost 10 minutes, Stanford missed 14 of 15 shots. Dwight Powell's three-point play with 3:48 left in the half finally snapped the Cardinal's shooting slump. Stanford then hit its next three shots and went into the half trailing just 32-25 despite shooting only 27 percent.
Bright, a Seattle-area native, shot just 5 of 13 for the Cardinal. Powell added 10 points.
"I thought we had some good looks that we didn't make. That's part of basketball," Dawkins said. "We didn't see it go in tonight on some of our looks. A lot of that ... give credit to Washington."