No better way to end the first month of the Guess the UW Score contest than with a perfect prediction.
Congratulations to ronye who picked Washington to beat Houston Baptist 88-65. Fantastic job.
Contact me privately to collect your big prize.
Ok let’s move on.
Washington (4-1) at Nevada (4-3), 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
AND THE UW-NEVADA WINNER IS …
The Huskies 74-62.
Against my better judgment I’m picking Washington because I can’t fathom how Nevada lost 68-46 at home in the season opener to a 4-1 Missouri State team from the Missouri Valley Conference.
Still this game screams upset alert for the Huskies for several reasons.
— It may be difficult for Washington to focus on an opponent from a smaller conference knowing they have two very big games in New York next week against No. 3 Duke and No. 16 Marquette.
— Washington is facing a motivated Nevada team that was embarrassed last year in a 90-60 thumping in Seattle.
— Nevada returns every starter from that game and you just don’t see that type of continuity in college basketball. The Wolf Pack has an experienced point guard in sophomore Deonte Burton who isn’t likely to get rattled by Washington’s pressure. Nevada also has a tall front line that includes defensive stalwart Dario Hunt, who is a shot-blocking savant at 6 foot 8.
— The game will also be played at Lawlor Events Center. It’s not as if Nevada has been giant killers at home – they’re 12-6 the past two seasons – but Washington has been vulnerable on the road. The Huskies are 9-19 in non-conference, regular-season road games during 10 years with coach Lorenzo Romar.
“I’m anxious to go out and see what we’ve learned from the last time out,” Romar said.
It will be interesting to see if he continues to bench players for making mental mistakes, defensive errors and sloppy turnovers like he did in previous game. It’s one thing to make substitutions after 87 seconds and constantly shuttle in players against a team like Houston Baptist at Hec Ed, but not sure if Romar can do that on the road. Especially if the Huskies fall behind early.
I spoke to Nevada coach David Carter and it sounds as if he studied the video from Washington’s loss at Saint Louis and will try to emulate the Billikens’ game plan. Look for the Wolf Pack to slow the tempo and try to make the game a half-court contest. Carter knows Nevada can’t win a shoot-out against Washington, which averages 82.6 points per game. Nevada averages 64.
Also look for Nevada to draw 7-foot center Aziz N’Diaye away from the defensive basket with pick-n-roll plays to open the middle.
Washington simply overwhelmed Nevada last year with defensive pressure that turned missed shots into fast break layups and transition dunks. It was an awesome display and one of the Huskies best performances of the season. They held the Wolf Pack to 28.3 percent shooting from the field. They led by 10 points (24-14) midway in the first half. At halftime, UW’s lead was 20 points (47-27). The Huskies increased it to 30 (66-36) with 11:59 left and their margin got as high as 39 (83-44) with 7:07 left.
It figures to be a little more difficult for Washington tonight. Still the Huskies will need to play well defensively to pull out a victory. Nevada struggles to score and aside from Burton no one appears capable of consistently creating a shot for themselves.