Expect the battle between Oregon St.'s Joe Burton and Washington's Aziz N'Diaye to be central to the outcome of the game tonight between the Huskies and Beavers. - (US Presswire photo)
Washington (12-6, 4-1) at Oregon St. (10-8, 0-5) / Gill Coliseum / 8:30 PM PST / Pac-12 Channel / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. returns home from a failure of a road trip to Los Angeles to host the Washington schools, starting tonight with the Huskies. It's a late night game, with tip off after 8:30, as the Pac-12 channel has set the game for the nightcap of a Northwest doubleheader, with Washington St. visiting #16 Oregon in the earlier game.
Washington is coming into Gill looking to make up some ground in the Pac-12 race they could have been sharing first place in had they not suffered a highly unexpected 74-65 home loss to Utah Saturday night. The Huskies were in trouble all night against the Utes, who are ahead of only Oregon St. in the conference standings, and you don't have to look beyond the team's respective shooting percentages. Utah shot over 60% from the field, while Washington was only 37%.
Portland native Andrew Andrews, a 6'2" freshman guard, has been playing impressively for the Huskies, and his team high 17 points, coming on 7 of 11 shooting, including 3 of 6 on 3 pointers, was easily the best performance of the night for Washington.
C.J. Wilcox, the Huskies' leading scorer, was held 5 points below average by the Utes, finishing with 14 points after making only 4 of 11 shots. Scott Suggs hit his average of 12 points, but did so with only a 25% shooting night that included just 2 of 9 from 3 point range.
The Huskies' 7' center Aziz N'Diaye had only 5 points, and just 3 rebounds, less than a third of his 9.4 per game average.
Oregon St. dug themselves a 15 point hole when they allowed USC to open the second half with a 7-0 run, and after answering with an 18-2 run of their own, could never pull away from the Trojans. The Beavers couldn't hold a 1 point lead with the ball in the last half minute of the game, and then couldn't get a shot up at the end, which resulted in USC getting the 69-68 win that provided interim coach Bob Cantu his first career coaching victory.
Roberto Nelson pumped in a game high 26 points for Oregon St., and both Joe Burton and Devon Collier shot above 50% for the game, finishing with 16 points each. But Ahmad Starks went scoreless, and the bench, which played well defensively, produced only 8 points in 70 minutes of combined court time.
Last year, the Huskies swept the regular season series from the Beavers, beginning with a wire to wire 95-80 win in Seattle during the Holiday break, followed by a 75-72 win at Gill, in one of the tightest, and roughest, games either team was involved with all season. With the win, Washington had won 16 of the last 19 meetings.
Oregon St. turned the tables on the regular season Pac-12 Champions, however, with 13-4 run at the end of the game, producing an 86-84 upset win in the second round of the conference tournament, which potentially cost Washington an NCAA Tournament berth. The Huskies would rebound to reach the semi-finals of the NIT. It was also the biggest upset in the history of the Pac-10/12 Tournaments, in terms of relative seeding, with the Beavers being the 9th seed.
Washington holds a 154-137 edge in the series, which, at 291 meetings, is the third most played rivalry in the NCAA, behind only Washington-Oregon (292 games) and Oregon St.-Oregon (338 meetings). But Oregon St. has a 94-48 edge in Corvallis, and 44-27 at Gill.
There will be a couple of individual milestones to watch for in the game as well. Burton will move into sole possession of 7th place on the Oregon St. career rebounding list with his first board of the game. And if Eric Moreland can get a blocked shot, he will climb into a tie with Nick Dewitz for third in career blocked shots. Moreland needs only 5 blocks to pass the legendary Steve Johnson for second place.
Having lost 6 of their last 7 contests, but with Washington St., and then a trip to the Bay Area immediately ahead on the schedule, its an opportunity for Oregon St. to turn their season around if they can bushwack their neighbors from the north.