Reminder: Play the Seattle Times Pick & Roll contest.
Two-way tie last week in the Guess the UW Score contest between scott84 and wayupwaydown, who predicted Washington would win 66-61 at Stanford. The Huskies pulled out a 65-60 victory.
Nice job guys. You nearly nailed the exact score like a certain someone. I won’t say who. … OK, it was me. (I couldn’t resist).
But really, congrats guys. If you want a yummy hot dog and soft drink, please contact me via twitter, email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or just find me on press row at a UW home game.
Alright, let’s get to tonight’s action.
Utah (8-8, 0-4) at Washington State (9-7, 0-3), 6:30 p.m. …. P12N
Colorado (11-5, 1-3) at Washington (11-5, 3-0), 8:30 p.m. ….. P12N
AND THE UW-CU WINNER IS …
— The Huskies 72-67.
For the first time in three weeks, the Las Vegas oddsmakers make Washington the favorite. The Huskies are expected to win by three and the over/under line is set at 138.
After five straight low-scoring games, this looks to be the time Washington’s offense opens up a bit. The Huskies average 69.8 points and they haven’t topped 70 in nearly a month.
Colorado is no slouch defensively allowing an average of 66.9 points, but they surrendered 92 points in overtime to Arizona and 78 to UCLA in a pair of defeats. The Buffs held Arizona State to 65 points, but still lost by nine. They also beat USC 66-60.
Playing at home for the first time since Dec. 22 should help Abdul Gaddy and Scott Suggs, who struggled shooting recently. Gaddy was 5 of 20 from the field and scored 11 points while Suggs was 5 of 19 for 10 points the Bay Area trip last week.
The Huskies may also receive an uptick in production from reserves Shawn Kemp Jr. and Jernard Jarreau who tend to play better at home than on the road.
It will be interesting to see what UW team takes the floor tonight in its conference home opener. The Huskies renewed their commitment to defense in rebounding while winning the past three games – all on the road.
It’s easier for coach Lorenzo Romar to preach a defense-first sermon when Washington plays in hostile environments, but you have to wonder if the Huskies will subconsciously relax defensively, believing they can win with their offense and perimeter shooting.
As strange as it may seem, Washington’s worst games this season have been at home where it has historically been dominant. No one will forget the setbacks to Albany, Colorado State and Nevada.
Meanwhile, Colorado is a desperate team. The Buffs have Pac-12 title aspirations and can jump back into the race for the conference crown with a win at Washington. Their next four opponents (Washington State, Stanford, California and Utah) have combined for two conference wins.
Washington has been superb defensively recently and tonight’s game plan figures to be similar to their game Saturday at Stanford.
The most intriguing matchup will be UW sophomore Desmond Simmons locking horns with CU junior Andre Roberson. They’re similar high-energy, high-effort players who throw their bodies all over the court.
Look for senior Aziz N’Diaye to defend 6-10 freshman Josh Scott leaving UW’s guard trio (C.J. Wilcox, Suggs and Gaddy) to contend with CU’s guard trio (Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie and Sabatino Chen). Not sure if the Buffs have anyone that can keep up with Wilcox, but he’ll likely be paired against Chen and reserves Xavier Johnson and Jeremy Adams.
Washington’s improvement defensively has overshadowed its offensive struggles. The last time the big guns (Wilcox, Suggs, Gaddy and N’Diaye) tallied double-digit points in the same game, the Huskies scored 87, 75 and 75 points in lopsided victories against Seattle University, Jackson State and Cal Poly respectively.
But that was a month ago against inferior competition.
The unknown variable is the influence of the Hec Ed crowd. Attendance has been modest during the non-conference season, but Romar is hoping for a large turnout tonight. As of Tuesday, there were 7,715 tickets sold, which is far from a sellout.