GAME: UCLA (12-9, 5-4 Pac-12) at Washington (14-7, 7-2 Pac-12). WHEN: Thursday, 6 p.m., Alaska Airlines Arena. MEETING: 131st (Bruins lead 91-39). RANKINGS: Neither team ranked. TV: ESPN. RADIO: KJR 950 AM, 102.9 FM.
Washington has taken three in a row from UCLA, but hasn’t beaten the Bruins four consecutive times since the early 1950s, when the teams began playing on an annual basis. The Pac-12 co-leader (with California) as the second half of the conference schedule begins, the Huskies get a chance to make a little bit of history at UCLA’s expense in what will also be Lorenzo Romar’s 500th game as a college head coach.
UW is 7-2 in league play for the third time in four years. The Huskies opened the 2009 and 2011 seasons 7-2 in conference action before losing the next game. The last time UW started 8-2 was 2005 when the Huskies began 10-2.
Washington has won three in a row, six of seven and nine of 11. In UCLA, preseason media pick to win the Pac-12 regular-season title, Washington faces a club that has run off wins in 10 of its past 14 to improve to 12-9 and 5-4.
UCLA’s best player is Lazeric Jones, who averages 13.4 ppg, but the Bruin most likely to interest Husky fans is former Kentwood All-Stater Joshua Smith who, as a part-time starter (eight starts in 20 games) is averaging 9.7 points and 5.0 rebounds.
Romar confirmed earlier this week that C.J. Wilcox will be available to play against UCLA and USC (Saturday), even though Wilcox hasn’t practiced this week in order to give the stress fracture to his femur more of a chance to heal.
Wilcox logged 10 minutes against Arizona State last Thursday and 26 minutes against Arizona Saturday and came up big in both. Against the Wildcats, his two free throws with 5.3 seconds remaining accounted for the winning points in a 69-67 triumph.
SERIES: Dates to Dec. 30, 1936, when Washington defeated UCLA 52-31 at Los Angeles. The Huskies have defeated UCLA three consecutive times (last time on March 3, 2011, 70-63), matching a similar streak during the 2005-06 seasons. C.J. Wilcox had 24 points in Washington’s last win, all in the second half. If the Huskies win, it will mark Washington’s longest streak against the Bruins since it took five in a row in the years spanning 1937-52. Lorenzo Romar is 10-9 against UCLA while Ben Howland is 7-10 vs. UW.
LAST GAME (Washington, Jan. 29): C.J. Wilcox, playing limited minutes in his second game back after missing three games, hit two free throws with 5.3 seconds left, lifting Washington to a 69-67 victory over Arizona at McHale Center. Tony Wroten, who led Washington with 17 points, blocked Arizona’s final, frantic shot with a tick remaining as the Huskies won two in Arizona for the first time since 2006. Aziz N’Diaye
LAST GAME (UCLA, Jan. 29): Lazeric Jones had 17 points and nine assists to help UCLA beat Colorado 77-60, dropping the Buffaloes out of a first-place tie in the Pac-12. Tyler Lamb had 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Bruins. David Wear chipped in 11 points, and Travis Wear had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Bruins (12-9, 5-4). Jerime Anderson had eight of UCLA’s 26 assists, its highest total in nearly five years.
UW STATS/NOTES: Washington remains the Pac-12’s No. 2 scoring team at 76.7 ppg and the 11th-rated scoring defense at 71.1 . . . Huskies are also the second-worst foul shooting team in the conference, making just 61.1 percent, despite featuring the league’s best free throw shooter, C.J. Wilcox (89.4 percent) . . . Washington leads the conference in rebounds per game (40.3) and offensive rebounds (14.52) . . . Tony Wroten trails Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham in the Pac-12 scoring race. Wroten is averaging 17.1 ppg to Cunningham’s 18.2 . . . Terrence Ross (15.1) and Wilcox (14.8) rank sixth and seventh in the Pac-12 in scoring.
UCLA STATS/NOTES: The Bruins are ranked sixth in the Pac-12 in both scoring (70.2) and scoring defense (63.3) . . . UCLA is one of the better shooting teams in the conference, hitting 47.1 percent overall and 38.2 percent of its 3-pointers . . . UCLA does not do a good job of defending 3-pointers, allowing opponents to hit 38.6 percent . . . The Bruins lead the Pac-12 in blocked shots, averaging 4.71 per game and rank No. 2 in assists (7.38) and No. 3 in assists (14.81) . . . UCLA does not have a scorer ranked among the conference’s top 10 . . . Only one Bruin, Jerime Anderson, leads a Pac-12 statistical category. Anderson has an assist/turnover ratio of 2.55, slightly ahead of Abdul Gaddy‘s 2.26 . . . Joshua Smith is UCLA’s fourth leading scorer at 9.7 ppg and second-leading rebounder (5.0). Smith has scored a season-high 18 twice this season, vs. UC Davis Dec. 17 and against Arizona State Jan. 7.
COACHES: 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 76-63 Jan. 21.
Howland, in his ninth season, is the first UCLA head coach since John Wooden to win three consecutive conference titles (2008-10) and make three trips to the Final Four (2006-08). Howland took UCLA to the NCAA Tournament in six of his first eight seasons. Howland has been a coach of the year in three leagues – 2006, UCLA; 2002, Big East at Pittsburgh; 1997, Big Sky at Northern Arizona.
ART THIEL’S TAKE: For a team that lost to South Dakota State, it is hard to believe that Romar’s biggest fear right now is overconfidence, or as he put it this week, “bored with success.” But after 499 games as a college head coach, he has seen enough to know how intoxicated young men get with a whiff of winning.
Despite the booting of their top returning rebounder and scorer, 6-9 Reeves Nelson (he was fired from his pro team in Lithuania this week), UCLA remains big, long and capable of getting Washington in foul trouble. This may be the game where Austin Seferian-Jenkins contributes a little more than nasty ruggdness. Washington 72, UCLA 68.
STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: Given the recent successes — UW has won nine of 11 and UCLA 10 of 14 — this shapes up as the best game of the year at home.
I really like what Romar has done with his team. Six weeks ago, the Huskies looked hopeless after losing to South Dakota State at home.
That team would have lost to Arizona by 15 to 20 points. The team Romar has now has a real shot at a Pac-12 regular season title. Washington 78, UCLA 70.
COMING UP: Huskies travel to Oregon for games against Oregon (Feb. 9) and Oregon State (Feb. 12). Washington returns to Alaska Airlines Arena Feb. 16 to host Arizona State.
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.||—||—||—||—||—|