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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

March 6, 2009 at 11:20 PM

Keys to the game — WSU

Here’s a breakdown of today’s game against Washington State:
Records: No. 16 Washington 23-7, 13-4; Washington State 16-13, 8-9. Where: Edmundson Pavilion (10,000). Time: 2:30 p.m. TV: FSN. Radio: KJR-AM
KEYS TO THE GAME
No. 1: Force the pace: As it often has been the last few years, this is a matchup of the fastest-paced team in the conference — UW, averaging 79.6 points per game; against the slowest — WSU, averaging 59.4. Whichever team can set its tempo will have a big edge, though having said that, UW won in Pullman in what was a pretty slow game by Husky standards (68-48). UW, however, is pretty good at forcing teams to play its way in Seattle.
No. 2: Harness the emotion: With a lot on the line in terms of the conference title, and it being the last home game for a trio of important seniors, there will be a lot of energy flying around Hec Ed. The trick for the Huskies will be to not let it all become too much and just play their game. For what it’s worth, UW is 5-1 on Senior Days at home under Lorenzo Romar, losing only last year to Arizona State. That includes the memorable win over No. 1 Stanford in 2004, maybe the most comparable situation to Saturday.s game.
No. 3: Win the battle of the backcourts: This is a matchup of two of the best backcourts in the Pac-10 (Cal’s and UCLA’s might also argue the point). UW dominated easily in the last meeting with Isaiah Thomas and Justin Dentmon outscoring Taylor Rochestie and Klay Thompson 36-20. As they do to most teams, UW’s quickness and athleticism on the perimeter could disrupt WSU’s ability to get many open three-point looks, a key weapon for Rochestie and Thompson.
No. 4: Contain Baynes Even when they were losing all those games to the Cougars the Huskies always did a pretty good job on Aron Baynes — he has just 56 points in eight career games against UW. Artem Wallace, getting a Senior Day start, could get a few minutes on the Aussie to begin the game and can help the Huskies set an early tone.
No. 5: Hit the boards: This has long been UW’s one big advantage against the Cougars. But WSU has turned into a surprisingly good rebounding team this year — the Cougars outboarded each of Arizona, ASU and UCLA in winning the last three games, and did so by a combined total of 19. And these are actually the two best defensive rebounding teams in the conference — UW at 24.3, WSU at 23.1. The difference is on the offensive boards, which is in part a matter of styles — UW often pushes all five to the glass, while the Cougars often drop everyone back to set up their defense. UW is averaging 15.2 offensive rebounds per game to WSU’s 6.9. The Cougars, as noted, willingly give up some of that to set the tempo. But the Huskies just killed WSU on the boards the first game, 36-20. A similar advantage today could result in another cakewalk.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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