GAME: Washington (8-6, 2-1 Pac-12) at Utah (4-10, 1-1 Pac-12) WHEN: Saturday, 11 a.m., Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City. MEETING: 12th (Huskies lead 6-5). RANKINGS: Neither team ranked. TV: ROOT Sports. RADIO: KJR 950 AM, 102.9 FM.
Given the rebuilding nature of the Utah basketball program, road-challenged Washington will not have a better chance at a conference win away from home than Saturday, when the Huskies conclude their first Pac-12 road trip with a matinee against the Utes.
Utah appeared in the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2009, but the program has crashed since, the Utes finishing 13-18 in 2010-11. New head coach Larry Krystkowiak, the one-time Montana star, brought in 11 new players to the squad this season, including seven transfers and four true freshmen.
So far, the results have been underwhelming, especially offensively. The Utes have scored fewer than 60 points seven times in 14 games and average just 57 per game.
Josh Watkins, a 5-foot-11 senior guard, leads Utah in scoring at 15.5 per game. Utah’s only other double-figure scorer is 6-10 junior center Jason Washburn, averaging 11.1. Watkins scored 20 points, including the game-winning jumper in overtime, as Utah stunned Washington State 62-60 Thursday for their first win as a Pac-12 conference member.
The Utes are 146-115 all time against Pac-12 teams, including 93-31 in Salt Lake City.
Washington is coming off an ugly loss, 87-69, at Colorado and has yet to win a road game this season (0-5).
“We have to be a mentally and physically tougher team,” said head coach Lorenzo Romar after the Colorado setback. “We weren’t effective in anything we did.”
The Huskies were especially ineffective at passing the ball, recording just seven assists on 72 shots attempted.
“It’s a grind on the road,” lamented junior guard Abdul Gaddy. “We have to figure out how to grind out wins. We need it to be when we don’t score they don’t score. Right now, we don’t know how to grind out games.”
SERIES: Dates to Nov. 30, 1951, when Washington dropped a 62-61 decision at Salt Lake City. A day later, the Huskies defeated Utah 60-44, also in Salt Lake City, Washington’s only win in the Utah capital. Utah and Washington last met Nov. 14, 2007, when the Huskies scored an 83-77 victory at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. New Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak has faced Washington once, on March 17, 2005, when he coached Montana. The Huskies defeated the Grizzlies 88-77 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
LAST GAME (Washington, Jan. 5): Carlon Brown scored 18 points and Colorado used balanced scoring to defeat Washington 87-69. Spencer Dinwiddie and Austin Dufault had 13 points each for Colorado (10-4, 2-0 Pac-12), which had five players in double figures. Tony Wroten led Washington (8-6, 2-1) with 21 points. C.J. Wilcox had 19 and Terrence Ross 13 for the Huskies, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
LAST GAME (Utah, Jan. 5): Utah won its 11th consecutive home game behind Josh Watkins‘ 20 points. Jason Washburn had 11 points before fouling out in regulation as the Utes (4-10, 1-1) rebounded from back-to-back losses of more than 30 points each. For WSU, which plays at Washington Jan. 15, Brock Motum had 27 points and eight rebounds and Faisel Aiden scored 11, but the Cougars (9-6, 1-2) couldn’t overcome 10 of 22 free-throw shooting.
UW STATS/NOTES: Washington averages 79.8 points (2nd, Pac-12) and allows 74.4 (11th, Pac-12) . . . The Huskies are hitting 37.1 percent of their 3-pointers, but allowing opponents to make 37.3 . . . Washington leads the conference in rebounding at 40.1 per game . . . UW forces 14.4 turnovers per game, but commits 14.1 . . . UW has not lost two in a row since early December when the Huskies fell to Nevada (Dec. 2), Marquette (Dec. 6) and Duke (Dec. 10) . . . Freshman Tony Wroten continues to lead the Huskies in scoring at 17.1. Only two other Huskies average in double figures, C.J. Wilcox (15.6) and Terrence Ross (14.3).
UTAH STATS/NOTES: Utah has scored fewer than 60 points in seven of its 14 games . . . The Utes average 57.2 ppg (lowest in the Pac-12) and yield 72.8. The difference of -15.6 worst in the conference . . . The Utes make just 41 percent of their shots and are an abysmal 27.2 from 3-point range . . . The Utah roster includes two Seattle natives, guard Glen Dean and guard Aaron Dotson. Dean, a 2008 graduate of Roosevelt High, transferred to Utah from Eastern Washington. At Roosevelt, he averaged more than 14 points a game as a three-year starter. Dean, a transfer from Louisiana State (he is sitting out this year), graduated from Rainier Beach, which he helped lead to the 3A state title in 2008.
COACHES: Romar is in his 10th season as Washingtons head coach. His 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. He won his 200th game at Washington Dec. 16 when the Huskies defeated UC Santa Barbara.
Larry Krystkowiak: A former star at Montana in the Big Sky (only three-time league MVP), Krystkowiak is in his first season as head coach of the Utes. In his previous collegiate head coaching post, Krystkowiak directed Montana to a 42-20 record and two NCAA appearances from 2004-06 before joining the NBA coaching ranks. Hired as an assistant coach by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2006-07, “Krysko” was elevated to head coach with 17 games remaining in the season. He was retained as the Bucks’ head coach in 2007-08, and since then has served as an assistant with the New Jersey Nets. Krystkowiak’s other head coaching experience was in the CBA with the Idaho Stampede in 2003-04.
ART THIEL’S TAKE: Is any player in charge here? In the Colorado loss, the Huskies had no clue on either end of the floor about how to pull themselves out of trouble. Romar can tell them, but he can’t do it for them.
Even though Gaddy bears the brunt of the leadership issue, how about something, anything, from senior forward Darnell Gant and junior center Aziz N’Diaye? Neither is contributing much while the wingmen and point guards go solo in drives to the hoop or hoisting beyond the arc. Bad scene. And now they run into the league cellar-dweller suddenly re-energized by an upset win over the Cougs. Still, I’m saying the Huskies’ damaged pride is a greater edge than Utah’s discovery of pride. Washington 70, Utah 66.
STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: If Washington can’t beat the rebuilding Utes Saturday in Salt Lake City, the Huskies are probably not going to win a road game this season. Utah sports the worst offense in the conference (57 points per game) and managed to score just 33 in a 40-point loss to Colorado last week. The Utes needed an overtime to reach 60 points against Washington State Thursday.
On the other hand, Washington has been unable to get any semblance of an act together away from Alaska Airlines Arena. This team is shaping up as a duplicate of the 2008 UW team that went 16-17 and ended that season with an embarrassing loss to Valparaiso at home in the CBI Tournament. If Utah had anything at all, we’d go with the Utes. But . . . Washington 75, Utah 63.
COMING UP: The Huskies return to Alaska Airlines Arena to face Seattle University Jan. 10 and Washington State Jan. 15.
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||—||—||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||—||—||W||87-80||5-4|
|12/18/11||vs. South Dakota St.||—||—||L||92-73||5-5|
|12/22/11||vs. Cal-State Northridge||—||—||W||74-50||6-5|
|12/29/11||vs. Oregon State||—||—||W||95-80||7-5|
|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.||—||—||—||—||—|