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Husky Men's Basketball

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

January 8, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Pac-10 Picks … including the Washington game

We like newcomers to the blog, so let’s welcome HuskyHero11 who has posted just three times and came away as the big winner in Thursday’s Guess the UW Score contest. Good job. And great prediction – 87-68 – which was nearly perfect. Washington beat Oregon 87-69.
Be sure to claim your prize. Contact me privately and choose from either a hot dog and soft drink at a UW game or a promotional code to the Seattle Times Husky men’s basketball app.
Looking forward to meeting a couple of past winners today.
Okay, let’s move on to today’s games. (Times are local to site)
California at Arizona State, 12:30 p.m. (FSN)
Oregon State at Washington, 3:30 p.m. (FSN NW)
Stanford at Arizona, 4:30 p.m. (FSAZ)
Oregon at Washington State, 7:30 p.m.
Picks: Cal, Arizona and WSU
Record: 7-4 Pac-10, 71-26 overall.

The Huskies 74-68.
This feels like a trap game. It’s an odd 3:30 p.m. start, which almost guarantees a late-arriving crowd that will be either giddy or frustrated about today’s NFL playoff game across town. Not sure if the energy is going to be inside Hec Ed at the start.
On paper, Washington (11-3, 3-0 Pac-10) should cruise to an easy win at home where it is winning by an average of 29.3 points. The Huskies are rolling. They’ve tied their school record with 10 straight wins against conference opponents and they’re looking to start league play with a 4-0 record. The last time they did that was in 1984 when they began 6-0.
With the exception of losing Abdul Gaddy to a season-ending knee injury, everything has come together nicely for Washington. Still every team has an off game and Oregon State is the kind of squad that can give the Huskies fits.
In their last meeting, UW didn’t solve OSU’s 1-3-1 zone until about midway in the second half. The Huskies trailed 35-23 with 16 1/2 remaining before going on a 23-4 run. Nearly the same thing happened Thursday against Oregon. The Ducks used a 2-3 zone and the score was tied 51-51 before UW’s 22-8 run sealed the victory.
As usual Isaiah Thomas is the key. He’s elevated his game recently because his decision-making and play-making abilities have gone up a notch or two. Today he’ll be tested once again by a long, athletic team that defends the basket with a zone and shuts off passing lanes. Thomas will get plenty of looks outside, but as tempting as it may be, he can’t settle for three-pointers. He’s going to have to charge into the teeth of the defense, draw the defenders and find an open man, which is a challenging task against a team that leads the nation in steals.
It’s vital Matthew Bryan-Amaning remains active, especially around the offensive glass because the Beavers are susceptible to giving up putbacks. The same goes for Justin Holiday and the other wings.
Every game against Oregon State is a test of wills because its zone defense is unlike any other in the Pac-10. And while the Beavers defense attracts a lot of attention, their offense is also pretty formidable. In the past, OSU didn’t win many shootouts. However, it is averaging 74.1 points per game this season.
Two of the most interesting matchups will be Holiday defending sophomore sensation Jared Cunningham. Holiday is building a reputation as an offensive player this season, but this will be one of the first stiff tests for the senior forward who was an all-Pac-10 defensive selection last season. Cunningham is a difficult cover because he’s constantly on the move. He’s also prone to long scoreless droughts and there’s a question as to whether he’s mature enough to lead the Beavers.
The other intriguing matchup figures to be Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N’Diaye against 6-foot-7, 280-pound Joe Burton. The Huskies couldn’t stop Oregon big man Joevan Catron on Thursday and they’ll have their hands full with Burton who is difficult to contain once he gets going.
No. 23 Washington has experience on its side and it should show up when it matters most. Senior guard Venoy Overton has played well against Oregon State in the past – he’s 7-0 against the Beavers – and he figures to play an important role whether he starts as he did Thursday or comes off the bench. Overton has nursed several injuries this season. In addition to the pulled hamstring, bruised tail bone and hyperextended knee, he injured his shoulder several games ago. And on top of all of that, Overton will soon become a father and is expecting his first child any day now.
The X-factor could be Terrence Ross, Thursday’s star who scored a career-high 25 points. Coach Lorenzo Romar didn’t announce his starters and there’s a chance Ross could make his first start today. He’s been on a tear as of late, averaging 16.7 points in three Pac-10 games.
None of the Huskies have ever lost to Oregon State and the Beavers have lost 62 straight road games against Top 25 teams. Their last win against a ranked team was a 52-45 victory at then-No. 15 Washington on Jan. 5, 1985.

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, top 25


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