Still waiting on someone else to make a perfect prediction in the Guess the UW Score contest. We’ve been close lately.
It almost happened again Thursday. However, Go Huskies BB and lghusky were each one point away from Washington’s 60-54 win at Arizona State. Their predictions were 60-55 and 60-53, respectively.
(Note: It’s the second win for lghusky, who moves into a two-way tie with justinholidaycanplay for the season lead.)
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OK let’s move on. Plenty of afternoon games so let’s get to it.
TODAY’S PAC-12 SCHEDULE:
Colorado (14-6, 6-2) at UCLA (11-9, 4-4), 1 p.m.
Washington State (11-9, 3-5) at Arizona State (6-14, 2-6), 2 p.m. (ROOT)
Washington (13-7, 6-2) at Arizona (14-7, 5-3), 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Utah (5-15, 2-6) at USC (5-16, 0-8), 8 p.m.
Picks: UCLA, ASU and USC
AND THE UW-ARIZONA WINNER IS …
The Wildcats 68-64.
Going with the home cooking today in the Pac-12. Road teams are 13-35 in the conference games and the Washington-Arizona series is even more lopsided when factoring the location of the games.
The Wildcats have won the last five against UW at home. The Huskies are 6-27 at Arizona and their last win was March 4, 2006.
The McKale Center, the largest and arguably most intimidating venue in the Pac-12, has been a House of Horrors not just Washington, but everyone in the conference.
However, it’s not as if the Wildcats are invincible at home. They are 10-2 on their floor this season.
San Diego State won 61-57 at Arizona on Nov. 23. Two weeks ago, Oregon came in and slugged its way to a 59-57 win in front of national CBS audience.
The Huskies can learn a lot from that Ducks’ win. Oregon jumped on Arizona early and led 34-22 at halftime. The Ducks had a 17-point second-half lead before the Cats made a run and surged ahead 56-54 with less than three minutes left. The Ducks regained the lead and scored their final basket – a three-pointer – with 1:48 left. Oregon was outrebounded 29-25, but it forced 15 turnovers and shot 45.3 percent from the field against a defense that ranks second in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage defense.
Arizona is 12-1 this season and 43-4 under coach Sean Miller when outshooting the opposition.
The Wildcats are a streaky shooting team so it will be important for Washington to limit runs. They converted 15 three-pointers in Thursday’s 85-61 blowout over Washington State. Senior guard Kyle Fogg and backup senior guard Brendon Lavender each had four and Solomon Hill had three.
It’s also critical for the Huskies to manage their emotions and not get intimidated by the most the most hostile crowd they’ll face this season. Arizona is organizing a white-out and it can be nerve wrecking when 14,000 people scream at you for 90 minutes. ESPN’s College GameDay crew is also on hand, which makes the stage even bigger.
Admittedly the Huskies were rattled early when they played Duke at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 6. They fell behind by 19 points in the first half before realizing they could play with the Blue Devils.
That shouldn’t be a problem today because the Huskies have grown in the past six weeks. They’ve discovered a winning formula on the road. They’ve committed themselves to playing defense and rebounding.
Everything they’ve learned recently will be put to the test. It’s one thing to win at Utah and Arizona State, teams with a combined 11-29 record. But Washington is seeking to take another step forward and claim a victory against a formidable foe on their court.
As freshman guard Tony Wroten Jr. said: “I feel like if you’re a college basketball player, you got to live for this. You got to be ready. You know it’s going to be crazy. They’re going to go on runs. You just can’t fold. You got to come in as a group, as a team and get wins. Try to block the crowd out. It’s going to be hard.”
It will be difficult, but not impossible.