BY SPNW Staff 07:10PM 12/17/2011

Huskies face easier mark in S. Dakota St.

The first game-long use of a four-guard lineup had positive results for Washington, which will deploy it against a lesser foe Sunday at Hec Ed.

Tony Wroten wowed an Alaska Airlines Arena crowd Friday by scoring 27 points, matching a freshman school record. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

GAME: South Dakota State (9-4, 2-0 Summit League) at Washington (5-4, 0-0 Pac-12). WHEN: Noon Sunday, Alaska Airlines Arena. MEETING: 1st. RANKINGS: Neither team ranked. TV: ROOT Sports: RADIO: KJR 950 AM, 102.9 FM.

Coach Lorenzo Romar, who collected his 200th career victory Friday night when the Huskies defeated UC Santa Barbara 87-80, is expected to stick with his new, four-guard lineup in the second of five consecutive home games.

Romar went with the four-guard set of Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, Terrence Ross and first-time starter Tony Wroten because of the absence of center Aziz N’Diaye, sidelined with a sprained knee. Aziz could return to action next week when UW hosts Cal State Northridge.

The four-guard lineup, first used by Romar Dec. 10 against No. 7 Duke after N’Diaye got hurt, allowed Washington to rally from 19 points down.

“I think it’s a great lineup,” said Gaddy. “We’re fast and we could pick up full court. We could press and we could do a lot of things out on the court.”

“It gives teams different looks,” added Romar. “And this (UC Santa Barbara) was our first time playing with it this much. I thought there were a lot of positives to it.”

The Jackrabbits (9-4) are led by 6-foot-4 point guard Nate Wolters, who is averaging 20.5 ppg and was a 2011 All-Summit League selection. The Summit League, known as the Mid-Continent Conference until 2007, includes Indiana U./Purdue-Fort Wayne, Indiana U.-Purdue-Indianapolis, Missouri-Kansas City, North Dakota State, Oakland University, Oral Roberts, University of South Dakota, Southern Utah and Western Illinois.

SERIES: The Huskies are South Dakota State will be meeting for the first time.

LAST GAME (Washington, Friday): Tony Wroten, making his first career start, matched a UW freshman scoring record with 27 points and the Huskies rallied from a sluggish start to defeat UC Santa Barbara. The Huskies snapped a three-game losing streak, overcoming some botched free throws by Wroten in the final minute and a half. Guard Abdul Gaddy produced a season-high 17 points.

LAST GAME (South Dakota State, Thursday): North Dakota opened the game with a 6-for-6 effort from the floor to take an early lead that it would not relinquish in an 89-70 win over South Dakota State in Grand Forks, ND. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Jackrabbits, who fell to 9-4. The Jackrabbits missed their first seven shots from long range, trailed by as many as 18 points in the half, and couldn’t recover. Nate Wolters led the Jackrabbits with 24 points, adding six rebounds and five assists. Chad White scored 16 points and Tony Fiegen 10.

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.

Scott Nagy: Nagy is in his 17th season as head coach at South Dakota State and is two wins shy of 300. In his 16 years, Nagy has guided the Jackrabbits through the transition from Division II?to Division I, building 298-194 record at the Division I and Division II levels. He guided the Jacks to North Central Conference championships in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2002. Nagy started his coaching career in 1988 at the University of Illinois under Lou Henson.

UW STATS/NOTES: Wroten’s 27 points against matched the school record for most in a game by a freshman, first set by current Husky assistant Paul Fortier Feb. 12, 1983, at Arizona, and matched by Isaiah Thomas Dec. 30, 2008, vs. Morgan State . . .Plagued by foul trouble, C.J. Wilcox had a season-low four points against the Gauchos . . . Washington has won a school-record 32 consecutive games against non-conference opponents at Alaska Airlines Arena . . . Huskies are averaging 81.1 points and allowing 76.6 . . . Washington ia outrebounding its opponents, 41.4 to 36.9 . . . Three Huskies — Terrence Ross (16.4), Wroten (15.7) and Wilcox (15.4) — average in double figures.

SOUTH DAKOTA ST. STATS/NOTES: The Jackrabbits are 4-0 at home, 3-4 away and 2-0 on neutral courts . . . Average 77.2 points and allow 70.6 . . . SDSU makes 35.7 percent of its 3-point attempts (104 of 291) and has a +3.2 edge in rebounding over its opponent . . . SDSU is not a good free throwing shooting team, hitting just 68.6 percent . . . Nate Wolters is SDSU’s leading scorer at 20.5 points per game. Only one other Jackrabbit, Griffan Callahan (11.2) averages in double figures . . . South Dakota State University is in Brookings, SD, and is the state’s largest university with an enrollment of 12,725 . . . South Dakota State has a women’s equestrian team.

Art Thiel

ART THIEL’S TAKE: The problem with the Huskies’ four-guard offense is that all of them think they can score 20 in a given game — and they’re right. But a good team can more easily defend it. Against a physical UCSB team that pushed around the Huskies, too many possessions deteriorated into one-on-one plunges and ended up with weak shots or no shots. And they were out-rebounded 40-35, the obvious price to be paid with little-guy unit.

It’s not unsolvable, but even when N’Diaye returns, it’s going to take time to rework an offensive stew with so many cooks on the floor at once. Fortunately, the Huskies have a couple of non-conference lightweights against whom they can sort it out.  South Dakota State — really? Washington 90, SDSU 72.

Steve Rudman

STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: The Huskies should have little difficulty dispatching South Dakota State, even with N’Diaye ailing and unable to play. The Jackrabbits have lost to all three major Division 1 schools on their schedule — Minnesota, Nebraska and Georgia.

Having said that, the Huskies still have plenty of holes, too, especially at the free throw line, where they’re hitting just 61 percent as a team. Gifted as he is, Wroten really needs to get better in this area, hitting slightly more than 50 percent.

The Jackrabbits, as their nickname suggests, play up-tempo. So does Washington, a more athletic team. Washington 89, SDSU 74.

COMING UP: the Huskies play another non-conference game, against Cal State Northridge Thursday, then open Pac-12 play against Oregon State (Dec. 29) and Oregon (Dec. 31), all at Alaska Airlines Arena.

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 L 86-80 4-4
12/16/11 vs. UC Santa-Barbara W 87-80 5-4
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