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November 26, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Guess the UW Score contest: Montana

Washington returns from a miserable trip to New York last week where the Huskies stumbled in two games at Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Classic.

They lost 89-78 to Boston College last Friday, however, there were two winners in the Guess the UW Score contest.

The Dawg Whisperer and skeetss both predicted an 88-80 BC win.

Congrats guys. Contact me via email (pallen@seattletimes.com) or Twitter to claim your prize.

Alright, let’s move on.

TUESDAY’S SCHEDULE:

California (5-0) vs. No. 8 Syracuse (5-0), 4 p.m. ………….. ESPN

Montana (1-2) at Washington (2-3), 6 p.m. …………………. Pac-12 Networks

Stanford (5-1) vs. Pittsburgh (5-0), 6:30 p.m. ……………… ESPNU

SIU Edwardsville (1-5) at Oregon State (2-1), 8 p.m. …… Pac-12 Networks

Picks: Syracuse, Pittsburgh and OSU

Season tally: 39-8

AND THE UW-MONTANA WINNER IS …

The Huskies 73-66.

Washington needs a win in the worse way. In fact, the Huskies just need something – anything – positive to happen after a deluge of bad news lately.

On Monday, backup guard Hikeem Stewart told the team he’s transferring. Earlier today Washington announced backup forward Shawn Kemp Jr. has been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. He’ll continue to play while receiving treatment.

On top of all of that, the Huskies are staggering after two straight losses. Their defense is a mess. The starting lineup is a mystery. The reserves are depleted. They’re shorter than most opponents. They’re injured. They’ve gotten off to slow starts in nearly every game. They’ve trailed by double digits in every game. Their fans are seemingly apathetic, restless and staying away from home games like never before. And there’s a sense that this year is already over less than three weeks into the season.

And here’s the other trouble news for Washington, Montana is a dangerous opponent.

The Grizzlies are the big fish in the small pond that is the Big Sky. They know how to win. They’re a veteran group led by senior star Kareem Jamar. Four years ago, UM nearly upset then No. 14 Washington before the Huskies claimed a 63-59 win. It would seem UW isn’t as good that 2009-10 team and UM just might be better than their former squad.

The Huskies struggled in 2009 against Montana’s 2-3 zone and shot 31 percent from the field. Chances are the Grizzlies deploy a similar defensive tactic and dare Washington to shoot from outside where it’s shooting 33.3 percent on three-pointers.

The Huskies appear to have an advantage inside against a UM team that’s averaging 27.7 rebounds, which ranks 347th out of 351 Division 1 teams. They’re allowing opponents 38.7 rebounds per game. UW averages 35.8 rebounds, but the Huskies have lost the battle of the boards in four games.

On the bright side, C.J. Wilcox returns from an outstanding outing in New York. He averaged 27 points in the Big Apple, including a career-best 30 point performance last Friday.

Still, Washington has a lot to work on with just eight non-conference games. It will be interesting to see how the Huskies respond to the loss of Stewart. He didn’t have a big impact on the floor, but he was a positive influence in the locker room and on the sidelines.

The news about  Kemp seems ill-timed, but perhaps tonight’s game comes at a good time for the Huskies who can focus on basketball for a few hours and start to turn things around.

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