GAME: Washington (16-7, 9-2 Pac-12) at Oregon (16-7, 7-4 Pac-12. WHEN: Thursday, 8 p.m., Matthew Knight Arena. MEETING: 291st (Huskies lead 186-104). RANKINGS: Neither team ranked. TV: FSN. RADIO: KJR 950 AM, 102.9 FM.
Lorenzo Romar’s Washington Huskies, winners of their past three road games, have won five in a row, eight of nine and 11 of 13. UW is the only Pac-12 team that controls its destiny in the race. If the Huskies win out, they will capture their second regular-season title outright since 2009.
But they occupy a shaky driver’s seat. Washington plays five of its final seven conference games away from Alaska Airlines Arena, starting with the Oregon schools (Oregon State at 2:30 p.m. Sunday).
The Huskies, 9-2 for the first time since starting league play 10-2 during the 2005 season, have won three of their past six games in Eugene and four of their past five in Corvallis.
“When you are 9-2 you should feel like you are in the driver’s seat,” Romar said this week. “But I don’t feel that way at all. Maybe it’s because we’ve spent so much of the season digging our way out of a hole. And wee have a tough stretch here. We could look up in two weeks in be in fifth place even if we play good basketball.”
As for a comparison to the 2005 UW team, Romar suggested that there isn’t much.
“When we were 9-2 in 2005, that team was really on a roll and this one isn’t yet,” Romar said. “That was more like a well-oiled machine. That team had hit its stride, but this team hasn’t hit a stride yet. There’s a difference between then and now. We haven’t hit our (maximum) rhythm yet, but we are as close as we have been all year.”
As for UW’s recent road success, Romar said, “What has fueled out confidence on the road is the ability to know what to do so that we can be successful: guard, compete, don’t stand around offensively, and remain steady whether we’re up 10 or down 10.”
SERIES: Dates to 1904, when Washington defeated Oregon 19-16 in Eugene. Washington won six of the past eight and 14 of the past 20 between the schools, including a 76-60 home victory Dec. 31 in which C.J. Wilcox tied his career high with 24 points and Tony Wroten added 17 and five assists. Washington’s longest winning streak in the series is 16 games from 1929-33. Oregon’s longest winning streak is eight games, from 1938-39.
LAST GAME (Washington, Feb. 4): Tony Wroten had 13 points, eight assists and six rebounds as Washington kept a hold on first with a 69-41 win over Southern California. Terrence Ross added 10 points and 14 rebounds. USC missed its first 14 3-point attempts, shot only 29 percent and went scoreless for more than six minutes of the second half as Washington ran away.
LAST GAME (Oregon, Feb. 4): Nate Tomlinson was fouled with one second remaining by E.J. Singler and sank the first free throw before deliberately missing the second to give Colorado a 72-71 win over Oregon. Oregon’s Olu Ashaolu tied it at 71 with 7.6 seconds left and was fouled by Askia Booker, but missed the free throw. Andre Roberson corralled the rebound for Colorado.
UW STATS/NOTES: Washington continues to rank No. 2 in the Pac-12 in scoring offense (76.1 ppg), but no longer ranks last in scoring defense. After holding USC to 41 points last Thursday, UW now ranks 10th (69.8 ppg) . . . UW makes just 61.7 percent of its free throws, next to last . . . The Huskies lead the conference in rebounding at 40.3 and rank No. 2 in blocked shots at 4.43 per game . . . With 13 points against USC, Wroten (16.7 ppg) is third in the scoring race behind Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham (18.0) and Washington State’s Brock Motum (17.2) . . . Wroten is making just 57.1 percent of his free throws and 21.4 percent of his 3-point attempts . . . Aziz N’Diaye ranks second in rebounding at 8.0 rpg.
OREGON STATS/NOTES: In the first meeting between UW and Oregon Dec. 31, Singler led Oregon with 20 points, 13 in the first half. But the Ducks shot just 32 percent . . . Oregon scores 69.8 ppg (T7 Pac-12) and allows 66.8 (9th) . . . Oregon makes just 44.6 percent of its shots (8th, Pac-12), but is a marginally better 3-point team than UW, hitting 36.1 percent to 35.7 . . . Oregon does not lead in any statistical category, but ranks No. 2 in 3-pointers made per game, 6.87 . . . Singler is Oregon’s leading scorer at 13.0 ppg (11th, Pac-12) and ranks second (88.2) to Wilcox (90.2) in FT percentage . . . Olu Ashaolu tops the Ducks in field goal percentage (53.2 percent).
COACHES: Lorenzo Romar is in his 10th season as Washingtons head coach. Romar has taken the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament six times, and has won three Pac-10 Tournament titles (2005, 2010, 2011). Romar, who signed a 10-year contract extension in April 2011, won his his 200th game at Washington Dec. 16, 2011, when the Huskies defeated UC Santa Barbara. He had his 300th career victory and his 100th as a conference coach when the Huskies beat Stanford 76-63 Jan. 21.
Dana Altman: Altman is in his second season as head coach of the Ducks and in his 23rd as a head coach, with other stops at Creighton, Kansas State and Marshall. In his first season at Oregon, Altman led the Ducks to just the 12th 20-win season in the history of the program. Oregon went 21-8 and 7-11 in conference play. Altman posted the second-highest win total of any first-year UO head coach. Only John Warren (30 wins in 1944-45) had more in his first year. Altman has been a coach of the year in three conferences: Missouri Valley, Big Eight and Southern.
ART THIEL’S TAKE: Not a good vibe for this one. Despite having won 11 of their past 13, Huskies aren’t going to run the table. This will be the the toughest of the final seven regular-season games, and UW had it waaay too easy in Saturday win over the Trojans.
Ducks did not look good losing New Year’s Eve at UW, but have since won six of nine.
Altman is a very shrewd dude and will wrap revenge with a defense that will force Washington to live from the outside. Neither Wilcox nor Wroten are at full speed because of lingering hurts. Someone aside from Ross is going to have to step up, and that will be harder to do on the road. Too hard in raucous Knight Arena with its floor that looks more like an oil spill than a faux forest. Oregon 70, Washington 67.
STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: The Huskies have won three in a row on the road and have had some success winning at Oregon in recent years, taking two of the past three.
Oregon also lost three times at home this season, most recently dropping a 76-71 decision to Oregon State Jan. 29.
The Huskies, one of the youngest teams in the conference, seem to have learned how to grind out wins away from home. I like their chances of knocking off the Ducks, especially if all hands are healthy. Washington 72, Oregon 68.
COMING UP: The Huskies return home Feb. 16 to host Arizona State. UW will entertain Arizona Feb. 18 before traveling to Pullman for a rematch with Washington State Feb. 25.
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.||—||—||W||91-83||10-6|
|1/15/12||vs. Washington St.||—||—||W||75-65||11-6|
|1/26/12||at Arizona St.||—||—||W||60-54||13-7|
|2/12/12||at Oregon St.||—||—||—||—||—|
|2/16/12||vs. Arizona State||—||—||—||—||—|
|2/25/12||at Washington St.||—||—||—||—||—|