Oregon St. (10-2) at Washington (6-5) at 6 PM PST at Alaska Airlines Arena / ROOT Sports Northwest / KEJO 1240 AM / KPAM 860 (Streamed)
Oregon St. opens Pac-12 play at Washington, in a game where the Beavers may be able to capitalize on a divided and distracted Husky Nation. Washington takes on Baylor in the Alamo Bowl, with kickoff in San Antonio at the same time as tipoff in Seattle. So in addition to the student section being more subdued than normal due to the ongoing Holiday break, much of Husky nation will be in the Alamo Dome, and many more will be in front of their tvs.
Washington will have the bowl game on monitors at Hec Ed, now known as Alaska Airlines Arena, formerly Bank of America Arena (does anyone get lost trying to find where the Huskies are playing?), so fans can follow both games. During time-outs, there will be Alamo Bowl "look-ins" on the scoreboard instead of the usual replays, and after the basketball game is concluded, the end of the football game will be shown on 'Husky Vision".
But this surprising scheduling snafu* is sure to diminish the usually serious home court advantage the Huskies usually have.
* Given the degree of media savyness Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has consistently shown, it's surprising that Washington's home opener wasn't shifted to either Wednesday or Friday in order to avoid splitting up the Washington and Pac-12 audience unnecessarily.
Washington (6-5) won their last outing, a 74-51 domination of the Cal St.-Northridge Matadors last Thursday night. That win was a bounce-back, after a 92-73 home loss to South Dakota St.. That loss to the Jackrabbits was the Huskies' 4th. loss in 5 games since the start of December.
Oregon St. (10-2) tore through winless Chicago St. 92-66 on a quick road trip to the windy city last Wednesday. It was the 4th. consecutive win by at least 20 points by the Beavers. Devon Collier led 5 Beavers, including 4 starters, in double figures, with a game high 19 points. Roberto Nelson came off the Beavers' bench to score 16 points. The 5th. starter, Joe Burton, had just 8 points, but was in double figures in another way, with a team-high 11 rebounds.
The Beavers built a 29 point before halftime, and cruised the rest of the way to the win.
The last time Washington and Oregon St. got together, the Beavers upset the then 20th. ranked Huskies 68-56 in Gill Coliseum last February, behind a game high 19 points by Jared Cunningham.
Before that, the Huskies had handled the Beavers 8 times in a row, and won 14 of 16 meetings. Their recent dominance has improved their advantage in the series to 152-136, which dates back to 1904. The Beavers are the second most frequent opponent in Husky history, one contest behind Oregon.
Washington is led in scoring by 6'5" freshman guard Tony Wroten, a hometown boy from Seattle, and 6'6" sophomore swingman Terrance Ross, who is from Portland. OR. Wroten averages 16 points and 3.2 assists per game, while Ross averages 15.1 points and 6.5 rebounds.
The shift by Washington coach Lorenzo Romar to guard based production, from a dominating inside game, which regularly overwhelmed Oregon St. in most of those recent losses, changes the dynamics of the game for the Beavers and their fans.
For the first time in modern memory, Oregon St. should have the advantage inside. The Beavers will need to capitalize on that advantage, and the accurate shooting of Angus Brandt, who leads the Pac-12 in shooting percentage, hitting .667 of his shots, and Collier, who is second at .657.
Last year's win over the Huskies was Ahmad Stark's first start. Oregon St. coach Craig Robinson made the move in order to put an effective defense against Washington guard Isiah Thomas, and it was so successful that Starks has moved into and stayed in the starting lineup.
The Beavers are off to their best start in 22 seasons, and start the conference race tied with Stanford for the best record in the Pac-12, while the Huskies are ninth overall.
Oregon St.'s Cunningham leads the conference in both scoring, with 16.8 points per game, and assists, with 3. Starks is second in the conference in steals, with 2.1 per game, and will probably draw the assignment of curbing Wroten, just as he was tasked with slowing down Thomas.
If you're watching the Beavers, or taking in the bowl game and want to chat about how Oregon St. and Washington are doing in hoops, here's the place.