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January 10, 2015 at 3:46 AM

Pac-12 predictions: Washington seeks to halt three-game skid

Nigel Williams-Goss and Washington are hoping to halt a three-game losing streak Saturday against Washington State. (Photo credit: Marcus Yam - Seattle Times)

Nigel Williams-Goss and Washington are hoping to halt a three-game losing streak Saturday against Washington State. (Photo credit: Marcus Yam – Seattle Times)

The schedule says it’s time for Washington to get right. The Huskies begin a three-game homestand against its Northwest rivals 12 p.m. Saturday starting with Washington State.

Next week UW hosts Oregon State and Oregon.

Washington (11-3, 0-2 Pac-12) had an extra day or two prepare for the WSU (7-7, 1-1) because both teams have just one game this week. It’s a perfect opportunity for the Huskies to correct its defensive flaws. And playing at home should improve UW’s shaky three-point shooting that’s 26.3 percent during the losses.

In many ways, the Cougars are just what the Huskies need to shake out of their malaise.

WSU is probably a little better than its record. The rivalry aspect of today’s game should create a good environment at Alaska Airlines Arena. UW officials were hoping for a sell out, but that probably won’t happen due to the the Huskies’ recent downturn and the Seahawks’ 5 p.m. playoff game. Still, it should be a good crowd at old Hec Ed.

Under first-year coach Ernie Kent the Cougars want to push the tempo, which should help the Huskies. They’ve struggled offensively recently while averaging 64.o points during the three defeats. That’s eight points fewer than their first 11 games when they were undefeated.

In the most recent UW-WSU matchup, Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews combined for 33 points, 21 rebounds, eight assists and four steals during a 72-49 Washington rout on Feb. 28, 2014 at Alaska Airlines Arena.

The Huskies would do well if they had a similar performances Saturday. Both were spotty in their last outing. Andrews was a little too aggressive offensively while Williams-Goss committed five turnovers and missed a crucial free throw in the final seconds of regulation. Williams-Goss and Andrews will be paired against WSU freshman point guard Ny Redding and junior guard Ike Iroegbu. If the Huskies don’t win those matchups statistically, they’re in trouble.

Washington also appears to have an advantage inside with super-sub Robert Upshaw, a 6-11 sophomore center, and senior forward Shawn Kemp Jr. However, it’s not a decisive edge considering WSU 6-10 forward Josh Hawkinson is averaging 15.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while 7-foot senior center Jordan Railey is averaging 12 points in the past four games, including a personal best 17 in his last outing.

Washington State and No. 7 Arizona are the only Pac-12 teams with road wins in the conference. WSU beat Cal 69-66 and the Golden Bears topped UW 81-75 last week. The Cougars, which started 4-6, have won three of their past four games. They’re surging and playing with confidence, Kent said.

Meanwhile, the Huskies are trying to regain something that’s been lost. If they can’t rediscover their winning ways in the next week, then they’ll likely waste a wonderful 11-0 start and miss the NCAA tournament for a fourth straight year.

Las Vegas oddsmakers say the Huskies turn things around today. UW is an 11.5 point favorite. I’m guessing it’ll be closer than that.

THE PICK: Washington 75-71.

TODAY’S PAC-12 SCHEDULE:

Game Time TV
Washington State (7-7, 1-1) at Washington (11-3, 0-2) 12 p.m. Pac-12 Networks
Arizona State (8-7, 0-2) at Oregon (11-4, 1-1) 2 p.m. Pac-12 Networks

 

THE PICK: Oregon.

GUESS THE UW SCORE WINNER: progressivedawg picked Stanford 73-64 over Washington. The Huskies lost 68-60 in overtime. Contact me (pallen@seattletimes.com) to claim your prize. Thanks for playing.

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