GAME: UC Santa Barbara (5-2, 0-0 Big West) at Washington (4-4, 0-0 Pac-12). WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m., Alaska Airlines Arena. MEETING: 3rd (Washington leads 2-0). RANKINGS: Neither team ranked. TV: ROOT Sports: RADIO: KJR 950 AM, 102.9 FM.
After playing just once at Alaska Airlines Arena in the past month, the Washington Huskies return to familiar digs, where they have won a school-record 31 consecutive games against non-conference opponents. UW will face three such opponents in a row before before commencing Pac-12 play.
UC Santa Barbara is up Friday. If the Huskies win, as expected, Lorenzo Romar will join Hec Edmundson and Marv Harshman as the only coaches in school history with 200 victories, and the Huskies will snap a three-game losing streak. Washington hasn’t lost four in a row since the middle of the 2008 season.
The Huskies will play without Aziz N’Diaye, the 7-foot junior center who sprained his left knee against Duke. Already missing senior guard guard Scott Suggs, who decided to redshirt the season after a toe injury was slow to heal, the young Huskies are even younger, and must fill a big hole on defense after the injury to what Romar has termed his most important player.
N’Diaye will be out for at least three games and hopes to be back for the conference opener Dec. 29. Earlier he missed a week of practice after a concussion Oct. 30. His spot figures to be filled by Darnell Gant, a 6-8 starting forward who will slide into the middle. Romar wasn’t sure whether he will fill Gant’s forward spot with a reserve big man or go with Gant and a four-guard lineup.
UCSB was picked to finished second in the Big West Conference behind Long Beach State. UCSB has been to back-to-back NCAA tournaments after winning the conference championships.
UC Santa Barbara’s main strength lies in its backcourt.
Senior guard Orlando Johnson is the team’s best player. He leads the Gauchos in scoring (23.8 ppg), rebounding (7.6 rpg) and assists (3.3 apg). He made the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top-50 List and also the Lute Olson Preseason All-America Team.
Last year, Johnson was first-team All-Big West, the Big West Tournament’s MVP and NABC first-team All-District 8. This past August, Johnson was a member of Team USA at the World University Games in China.
Johnson teams with James Nunnally, who averages 18.7 ppg.
SERIES: Dates to Dec. 17, 1981, when Washington scored a 71-67 victory at Santa Barbara. Four Huskies, led by Dan Caldwell’s 17 points, scored in double figures. Steve Burks contributed 14 points and Kenny Lyles and Brad Watson added 13 each.
LAST TIME: On Dec. 21, 1982, Washington defeated the Gouchos 75-55 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Watson scored 20 points, Darrell Tanner 19 and Detlef Schrempf 13 for Washington in a game played in front of 1,231 fans at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
LAST GAME (Washington): Freshman Tony Wroten scored a career-high 23 points before fouling out late, and the slow-starting Huskies roared back from 19 points down to within six before losing to the No. 7 Duke Blue Devils 86-80 in the CARQUEST Auto Parts Classic at Madison Square Garden Dec. 10. C.J. Wilcox added 22 points for Washington, which trailed by 19 points in the first half. “I was proud how our guys didn’t quit,” coach Lorenzo Romar said after UW had dropped its third in a row to fall to 4-4 for the season.
LAST GAME (UC Santa Barbara): Jaime Serna capped his career night with a pivotal blocked shot in the waning seconds and Orlando Johnson made a pair of free throws with 0.6 seconds left to seal Santa Barbara’s 65-61 win at the University of San Diego (5-5) Tuesday. Serna set a career-high with 22 points and tied another with five blocked shots.
COACHES: Romar is in his 10th season as Washingtons head coach. Romars Huskies have won 166 games since 2004-05 (entering the 2011-12 season), most in any seven-year span in school history. Romar signed a 10-year contract extension last April.
Bob Williams: Williams is in his 14th season at UC Santa Barbara. In 2010-11, Williams guided the Gauchos to their second straight Big West Tournament championship and second straight NCAA Tournament berth. It marked the third NCAA Tournament bid under Williams, fifth overall for the school. It was the first time the program had gone to the tourney in consecutive seasons. In his 13 years, UCSB has won four regular season league titles, three tournament titles and advanced to five post-seasons. Prior to UCSB, Williams spent eight years at UC Davis and in those eight years, his teams recorded 20 or more wins five times and a 158-76 record.
UW STATS/NOTES: N’Diaye was the Huskies’ top rebounder and shot-blocker . . . Romar has faced UC Santa Barbara three times as a head coach, all while at Pepperdine. He was 3-0 in those games and last played the Gauchos in 1999 . . . Wroten is Washington’s No. 3 scorer at 14.3 ppg . . . Chris Wilcox and Terrence Ross are both averaging 16.5 . . . The Huskies are scoring 80.4 ppg and allowing 73.9 . . . Washington, which earlier in the season averaged 50 percent on its 3-point attempts, has dropped to 39.5 . . . UW has a +5.8 rebound margin over its opponents.
UC SANTA BARBARA STATS/NOTES: Santa Barbara averages nearly 80 points per game and hits a lot of 3-pointers, 6.7 per contest . . . The Gouchos hit 46.8 percent of their shots and 35.9 percent of their threes . . . Three Santa Barbara players average in double figures, led by senior guard Johnson also, who averages 6.9 rebounds . . . The Gauchos have played one ranked team this season, No. 18 UNLV, losing 94-88 . . . Santa Barbara starts a lineup of Johnson, 6-9 senior forward Jaime Serna, 6-3 senior forward Christan Peterson, 6-2 junior guard Nate Garth and 6-7 senior guard James Nunnally.
ART THIEL’S TAKE: N’Diaye’s absence will alter the Huskies’ defense, which counted on him to clean up mistakes. But the shuffle in the starting lineup may provide the opportunity to start the improving Wroten, who made a big impression in New York. He was the subject of a feature story at ESPN.com’s Grantland.
He is nominally the backup to Abdul Gaddy, but Gaddy’s slow seasonal start has prompted some calls that Wroten start ahead of the junior. Opening with four guards removes the unpleasantness, at least for a few games, of benching Gaddy in favor of Wroten. Gaddy really needs to pick up his game, especially Friday because UCSB is a top-caliber mid-major and no pushover. Washington 78, UC Santa Barbara 75.
STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: It’s been three years since a Romar team lost four games in a row and 17 years (1994) since the Huskies dropped four straight to non-conference teams. We won’t have to re-visit the Bob Bender era again, although UC Santa Barbara could give Washington a pretty good test.
The Gauchos have made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. They lost to No. 18 UNLV only by six points, and they feature one of the best guard tandems on the West Coast.
Johnson is a stud. He leads the Gauchos in scoring and assists, he also leads them in rebounding. But given Washington’s near miss against No. 11 Marquette, the big comeback against Duke, and the return to Alaska Airlines Arena, the Huskies should prevail, even in the absence of N’Diaye. Washington 82, UC Santa Barbara 76.
COMING UP: The Huskies continue their home stand with non-conference games against South Dakota (Dec. 18) and Cal State Northridge (Dec. 22), before opening Pac-12 play against Oregon State (Dec. 29) and Oregon (Dec. 31).
University of Washington 2011-12 Schedule/Results
(Rankings Are Current)
|Date||Opponent||UW Rnk||Opp Rnk||W/L||Score||Rec.|
|11/4/11||vs. Seattle Pacific||—||—||W||77-60||0-0|
|11/12/11||vs. Georgia State||—||—||W||91-74||1-0|
|11/13/11||vs. Florida Atlantic||—||—||W||77-71||2-0|
|11/20/11||at Saint Louis||—||23||L||77-64||3-1|
|11/25/11||vs. Houston Baptist||—||—||W||88-65||4-1|
|12/2/11||at Nevada||—||—||L||76-73 (OT||4-2|
|12/16/11||vs. UC Santa-Barbara||—||—||—||—||—|
|12/18/11||vs. South Dakota St.||—||—||—||—||—|
|12/22/11||vs. Cal-State Northridge||—||—||—||—||—|
|12/29/11||vs. Oregon State||—||—||—||—||—|
|1/10/12||vs. Seattle U.||—||—||—||—||—|
|1/15/12||vs. Washington St.||—||—||—||—||—|
|1/26/12||at Arizona St.||—||—||—||—||—|
|2/12/12||at Oregon St.||—||—||—||—||—|
|2/16/12||vs. Arizona State||—||—||—||—||—|
|2/25/12||at Washington St.||—||—||—||—||—|