BY SPNW Staff 11:43AM 12/09/2011

Huskies Face Formidable Task in No. 7 Duke

Washington probably won’t face another team in the regular season ranked as highly as the foe Saturday — the No. 7 Duke Blue Devils.

Washington guard Terrence Ross is leading the Huskies in scoring. His dunk against Marquette on Tuesday was voted the "Play of the Night" on ESPN. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

GAME: Washington (4-3, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. Duke (8-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast). WHEN: Saturday, 9 a.m., Madison Square Garden, New York City. MEETING: 5th (Duke leads 3-1). RANKINGS: UW unranked; Duke No. 7 AP, No. 5 Coaches. TV: CBS. RADIO: KJR 950 AM, 102.9 FM.

If Lorenzo Romar’s Washington Huskies are to avoid their first three-game losing streak since January, they will have to do something they have been unable to do in the regular season since Feb. 10, 2008 — defeat an AP Top 10 team.

Washington, 9-17 against Top 10 teams during Romar’s 10-year tenure at the school, concludes its cross-country, three-game road trip Saturday against No. 7-ranked Duke as part of the CARQUEST Auto Parts Classic at Madison Square Garden.

The Huskies, a 79-77  loser to No. 11 Marquette (Jimmy V Classic) Tuesday, last defeated an AP Top 10 team outside of NCAA Tournament play on Feb. 10, 2008, when they knocked off No. 5 UCLA 71-61 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion (UW beat No. 8 New Mexico in the tournament two years ago).

Duke, probably the highest-ranked team Washington will face this season, unless the Huskies make the NCAA Tournament, features four double-figure scorers, led by freshman 6-4 guard Austin Rivers at 15.6 points per game, followed by 6-2 guard Seth Curry at 13.1, and 6-10 forward Mason Plumlee and 6-11 forward Ryan Kelly, both 12.2.

SERIES: Dates to March 18, 1984, when Washington defeated Duke 80-78 in the NCAA Sub-Regionals at Pullman. The Huskies and Blue Devils have met three times since, Duke winning all three.

LAST TIME: On Dec. 23, 1989, in front of 9,314 in Durham, NC, Christian Laettner (19 points) and Bobby Hurley (15 points, 6 assists) led the No. 12-ranked Blue Devils to a 74-64 victory over the Huskies. Dion Brown’s 13 points, Mark West’s 12 and Brent Merritt’s 11 led Washington. Washington had two front-court starters foul out and three others operating under the burden of four fouls apiece.

LAST GAME (Washington): Washington had a superb opportunity Tuesday to make a major statement on their first trip to the Big Apple since 2007, but Marquette’s Jae Crowder scotched it by drilling a 3-point shot with 6.3 seconds to play, giving the No. 11-ranked Golden Eagles a 79-77 win. Marquette improved to 8-0. The game featured 17 lead changes, 15 in the second half. Terrence Ross hit 9 of 15 shots and finished with 19 points. C.J. Wilcox tallied 15, including a trio of 3-pointers, and Darnell Gant had 14, 10 in the first half. Freshman Tony Wroten added 13, but clanked four of seven free throws.

LAST GAME (Duke): Colorado State came into the game as the nation’s top 3-point shooting team at nearly 46 percent, but went 4 for 11 against Duke’s aggressive perimeter defense in an 87-64 loss Wednesday night. For Duke (8-1), freshman Austin Rivers scored 17 points while Andre Dawkins added 15 points before sitting out the second half with back spasms. The Blue Devils hadn’t played since an 85-63 loss at No. 2 Ohio State on Nov. 29, their most lopsided defeat in the past two-plus seasons.

COACHES: Romar is in his 10th season as Washington’s head coach. Romar’s Huskies have won 166 games since 2004-05 (entering the 2011-12 season), most in any seven-year span in school history. Romar signed a 10-year contract extension last April.

Mike Krzyzewski: Just named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in college basketball history (907 entering 2011-12,), has been head coach at Duke since 1980. Since then, he has won four NCAA championships, 11 NCAA Regional titles and 12 ACC regular-season titles. He has been named Naismith National Coach of the Year three times. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted 2001), Krzyzewski coached the USA men’s team to an Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008.

UW STATS/NOTES: The Huskies announced Friday that senior co-captain Scott Suggs will not return to the team this season. Suggs underwent toe surgery on Oct. 14 and had been expected to miss 8-12 weeks. Since Suggs is still not ready to play, he decided that applying for a medical redshirt, and returning next season, is in his best interests . . . Washington is averaging 80.4 points per game, 24th nationally and first among Pac-12 teams . . . Huskies are allowing 72.1 per game, 274th nationally and also first in the Pac-12 . . . Washington is ranked 79th nationally in RPI . . . Lorenzo Romar has used the same five starters in all games: Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, Terrence Ross, Aziz N’Diaye and Darnell Gant . . . Ross leads the Huskies with a 16.5 average while Wilcox is at 15.7 . . . Wilcox is Washington’s leading 3-point shooter, 47.7 percent . . . If the Huskies reach the NCAA Tournament, Gant will become the first UW player to take part in four Big Dances . . . While the Huskies have been in New York, players have attended seminars on the history of Broadway, the study and reading of plays, plus the basics of acting, directing and producing in theater. In New York, the team attended “Memphis” Wednesday and “Lion King” on Thursday. The Tony Award-winning “Memphis” was produced by Seattleite Ken Alhadeff . . . This is Washington’s third trip to Madison Square Garden. The second was in 2007 as part of the Preseason NIT. The first was Dec. 30, 1941, when Washington routed host New York University 72-38 . . . Romar needs two wins to become the third UW head coach to reach 200 career wins at the school.

DUKE STATS/NOTES: The Blue Devils average 78.4 points per game (43rd nationally) and allow 69.0 (225th) . . . Duke has a minuscule 32.9-32.3 rebound edge over its opponents . . . Mason Plumlee is Duke’s top rebounder at 9.8 per game . . . Only Plumlee, Austin Rivers and Seth Curry have started each of Duke’s nine games . . . Duke is an excellent shooting team, hitting 50 percent, first among ACC teams and 11th nationally . . . Duke has been rated as high as No. 4 nationally  (Blue Devils dropped to No. 7 after losing to Ohio State) . . . Duke won this year’s Maui Invitational (a tournament in which Washington competed in 2010), by beating a pair of ranked opponents, Kansas and Tennessee  . . . Duke is ranked No. 2 nationally in RPI . . . Duke is a private school with an enrollment of 6,522.

Art Thiel

ART THIEL’S TAKE: Still can’t get over the last few seconds against Marquette. Neither Romar nor his heady floor leader, Gaddy, had the sense to call timeout to get off a reasonable shot at the game-winner. Nor could Gaddy see that Gant was wide open during his manic drive to nothing.

One play doesn’t make a season, but it does lead to wondering when Gaddy’s game gets in gear. It is nearly 12 months since his knee injury cut short last season, and he’s not playing with the authority this young team needs from a junior point guard. His backup, Wroten, is still freshman-wild, but plays with the swagger Gaddy is missing. If Scott Suggs returns to play Saturday or soon thereafter, Romar needs to rearrange the minutes until Gaddy finds himself. Duke 76, Washington 63.

Steve Rudman

STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: Romar seemed less than crushed after the loss to Marquette, preferring instead to dwell on how much his team has matured, despite the loss. “We’ve grown up a lot in the last two weeks,” he said. “We’re not the same team now that we were then.”

Given previous road losses to unranked Saint Louis and Nevada, most, including me, expected the Huskies to take it on the nose when they faced Marquette. Instead, UW stayed with the Golden Eagles  until the end, and might have won if Romar had called a timeout, allowing his offense to set itself.

Now we’ll see if the Huskies have matured as much as Romar says. Even if they have, I don’t see an upset here. Duke 83, Washington 71.

COMING UP: The Huskies return to Alaska Airlines Arena for a five-game home stand that will start with UC Santa Barbara (Dec. 18) and end with Pac-12 openers against Oregon State (Dec. 29) and Oregon (Dec. 31).

University of Washington 2011-12 Schedule/Results

(Rankings Are Current)

Date Opponent UW Rnk Opp Rnk W/L Score Rec.
11/4/11 vs. Seattle Pacific W 77-60 0-0
11/12/11 vs. Georgia State W 91-74 1-0
11/13/11 vs. Florida Atlantic W 77-71 2-0
11/14/11 vs. Portland W 93-63 3-0
11/20/11 at Saint Louis 23 L 77-64 3-1
11/25/11 vs. Houston Baptist W 88-65 4-1
12/2/11 at Nevada L 76-73 (OT 4-2
12/6/11 vs. Marquette 11 L 79-77 4-3
12/10/11 vs. Duke 7
12/16/11 vs. UC Santa-Barbara
12/18/11 vs. South Dakota St.
12/22/11 vs. Cal-State Northridge
12/29/11 vs. Oregon State
12/31/11 vs. Oregon
1/5/12 at Colorado
1/7/12 at Utah
1/10/12 vs. Seattle U.
1/15/12 vs. Washington St.
1/19/12 vs. California 24
1/21/12 vs. Stanford
1/26/12 at Arizona St.
1/28/12 at Arizona
2/2/12 vs. UCLA
2/4/12 vs. USC
2/9/12 at Oregon
2/12/12 at Oregon St.
2/16/12 vs. Arizona State
2/18/12 vs. Arizona
2/25/12 at Washington St.
3/1/12 at USC
3/3/12 at UCLA
3/7/12 Pac-12 Tournament
3/8/12 Pac-12 Tournament
3/9/12 Pac-12 Tournament
3/10/12 Pac-12 Tournament

YourThoughts

  • dinglenuts

    Nice talent.

    No discipline.

    The Huskies will more often than not lose close games because other teams will be smarter and more disciplined during crunch time.  It’s a fairly well established  characteristic of Romar’s tenure.

  • dinglenuts

    Nice talent.

    No discipline.

    The Huskies will more often than not lose close games because other teams will be smarter and more disciplined during crunch time.  It’s a fairly well established  characteristic of Romar’s tenure.