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January 23, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Guess the UW Score — Oregon State

Only three folks in last Saturday’s Guess the UW Score contest picked against the Huskies, which made tabulating the results easy this week.

You might have guessed ProgressiveDawg predicted an upset. His 69-61 pick beat out the others and came the closest to the final score – a 74-65 Utah victory.

Congrats PD. You know the drill. Hit me up via twitter or email (pallen@seattletimes) to collect your prize.

Let’s move on. Just a few games on the docket so let’s get to it.

PAC-12 SCHEDULE:

Washington State (10-8, 1-4) at No. 16 Oregon (16-2, 5-0), 6:30 p.m. ….. P12N

Washington (12-6, 4-1) at Oregon State (10-8, 0-5), 8:30 p.m. ……………. P12N

AND THE UW-OSU WINNER IS …

The Huskies 66-63.

I flip-flopped on this prediction about a dozen times before finally settling on UW for reasons I’ll explain below.

Washington used to enjoy a considerable advantage in the talent department, but Oregon State has closed the gap. The Beavers have given the Huskies in the last two games at Gill Coliseum. They won 68-56 in 2011 and lost 75-72 last season. OSU also upset UW 86-84 in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals last season.

The Huskies are attempting to rebound from an embarrassing 74-65 upset last Saturday against Utah. It was the Utes first Pac-12 win and their first road win against a conference opponent since joining the league.

Oregon State is also winless in the Pac-12 and the Huskies are talking about not overlooking a struggling opponent again.

But truth be told, a UW win tonight would be an upset. Oregon State is a one-point favorite, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.

Many college basketball analysts also predict OSU to bounce back from a tough defeat in its last outing and prevail at home. The Beavers lost 69-68 at USC last Saturday in a game decided in the final seconds.

In many ways, this is a must-win game for Oregon State if the Beavers are serious about playing in the postseason. They’ve kicked away any serious chance to compete for a Pac-12 regular-season title and must set their sights on equaling last-season’s team, which won 21 games and finished eighth in the Pac-12 at 7-11. A National Invitation Tournament berth would be a major achievement for OSU, which played in the CBI last year.

OSU fans believe the worst part of the schedule is behind them. The Beavers face just two opponents (UW and Oregon) currently in the top half of the conference in their remaining 13 regular-season games.

Meanwhile, Washington soon begins a tough stretch. After tonight 10 of their remaining 12 regular-season games are against five opponents (No. 16 Oregon, No. 6 Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and USC) that are in the top half of the conference.

Knowing what’s ahead makes tonight’s game critical for the Huskies.

It’s imperative 7-foot center Aziz N’Diaye stays out of foul trouble and does a reasonably decent job containing OSU’s talented front line that includes 6-10 forward Eric Moreland, 6-8 forward Devon Collier and 6-7 center Joe Burton.

N’Diaye fouled out of their last meeting and finished with just four points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes.  Without N’Diaye, Collier scored 19 points, Burton had 14 and Moreland 13.

N’Diaye should receive help from 6-7 forward Desmond Simmons and this is the type of game where 6-9 sophomore reserve Shawn Kemp Jr. could have a significant impact. We’ll see if redshirt freshman Jernard Jarreau is ready to make a major contribution.

The Huskies can’t afford a big scoring night from 5-9 guard Ahmad Starks who has torched them in the past. Fortunately for UW, the Beavers aren’t a big pick-n-roll team. The Huskies have struggled defending that play all season, but Starks tends to get his points on the perimeter.

Containing junior guard Roberto Nelson, who leads OSU in scoring with 16.1 points per game, is also imperative for the Huskies.

Abdul Gaddy epitomizes Washington’s recent offensive woes. However, he should feel relaxed paired opposite Starks. In a pair of games against the Beavers last season, the UW guard tallied 13 points and six assists in each contest.

Washington could also use a big night from Scott Suggs, who has fond memories of Gill Coliseum. Two years ago, he drained a personal best five three-pointers en route to 18 points. He too has struggled shooting since the start of the Pac-12 play.

OSU doesn’t really have anyone to matchup with C.J. Wilcox, the Pac-12′s leading scorer against conference opponents. Look for the Beavers to put Nelson on Wilcox, which leaves Suggs paired against 6-7 freshman Jarmal Reid. The Huskies will need to win both matchups.

And finally, Washington returns to the road where it found its gritty defensive identity. For whatever reason, the Huskies play with more of an edge away from home. They won their first three road games. A victory tonight would be the first time since 1953 Washington has won its first four conference road games.

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