Teams with Pac-12’s best records come to town with the Huskies missing No. 2 scorer, C.J. Wilcox, and asking much from a thin bench.
GAME: California (15-4, 5-1, Pac-12) at Washington (11-6, 4-1 Pac-12). WHEN: Thursday, 5:30 p.m., Alaska Airlines Arena. MEETING: 155th (Huskies and Bears tied 77-77). RANKINGS: Neither team ranked. TV: ROOT Sports. RADIO: KJR 950 AM, 102.9 FM.
UW head coach Lorenzo Romar is one win away from both his 300th career victory (he’s 208-108 at Washington) and his 100th conference triumph (99-68), but will find it difficult to reach those milestones this weekend, despite Washington holding the home court edge in games against California Thursday and Stanford Saturday.
Cal is 15-4 overall and leads the Pac-12 in numerous categories, including field goal percentage (.487), 3-point FG percentage (.415), free throw percentage (.740), scoring margin (+13.4), defensive rebounds (29.7) and assists-turnover ratio (1.4). Washington, meanwhile, features the 11th-worst defense in the conference.
Stanford is, by record, the conference’s best team at 15-3, and sports the league’s No. 3 offense (73.4) and No. 3 defense (61.0).
In addition to these obstacles, Washington will be without its second-leading scorer and best free throw shooter, C.J. Wilcox, out for the weekend with a stress fracture in his left femur near his hip.
Both Washington and Cal, off to its best conference start since 2002-03, have won three in a row, and the Bears have also won five of their past six. Best stat favoring the Huskies: While Cal has dominated on its home court, it has won just once in a true road game this season, a 77-60 victory at Oregon Jan. 8.
SERIES: Dates to Jan. 24, 1916, when California registered a 30-24 victory over Washington at Berkeley. Washington has won three in a row and four of the past five against California. The teams last met on Feb. 10, 2011, the Huskies winning 109-77 at Alaska Airlines Arena as Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points and handed out nine assists. Washington’s longest winning streak in the series is eight games, from 1951-53. Cal’s longest winning streak is also eight, from 1957 through 1960.
LAST GAME (Washington, Jan. 15): Terrence Ross scored a career-high 30 points, including 28 in 18 minutes of the second half, and pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds, leading Washington to a 75-65 victory over Washington State at Alaska Airlines Arena. Ross’ consecutive 3-pointers keyed a 26-6 UW run after a rare technical foul on coach Lorenzo Romar.
LAST GAME (California, Jan. 15): Jorge Gutierrez, Cal’s best defender, scored 15 points and handed out six assists as the Bears demolished Utah 81-45 in Berkeley, Justin Cobbs had 14 points and a career-high 11 assists, Harper Kamp added 14 points and six assists while Emerson Murray and Allen Crabbe had 10 points each for the Golden Bears, who remained unbeaten in 13 home games. The Bears forced Utah into 18 turnovers.
UW STATS/NOTES: Terrence Ross earned his first Pac-12 Player of the Week honor (and 44th all-time selection for Washington) for his performances in victories over Seattle U. and Washington State. Over the two games, Ross averaged 21.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.0 spg, 1.5 apg and 1.0 bpg. This selection is the third for the Huskies this season, with C.J. Wilcox taking the honors Nov. 14 and Tony Wroten getting the nod Jan. 2 . . . Washington enters the weekend averaging 78.8 points ppg and allowing a conference-worse 73.1 . . . Despite averaging 78.8, the Huskies rank only No. 6 in FG percentage at 45.6 and 11th in free throws, 62.6 percent . . . Washington continues to lead the Pac-12 in rebounding at 40.8 (Stanford is second at 37.9) . . . The Huskies sport two of the top five scorers in the conference, No. 2 Wroten at 16.8 ppg and No. 5 Wilcox at 15.5 . . . Wilcox lead the Pac-12 in two stat categories, free throw percentage (90.0) and 3-point FGs made per game, 2.75 . . . Aziz N’Diaye ranks third in rebounding (7.9), Abdul Gaddy third in assists (4.82).
CALIFORNIA STATS/NOTES: The Bears have the No. 4 scoring offense in the Pac-12 and the second-stingiest defense, 59.1 . . . Cal’s scoring margin of +13.4 leads the conference (Saturday’s opponent, Stanford, is No. 2 at +12.4) . . . Cal also leads the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (48.7), 3-point percentage (41.5) and free throw percentage (74.0), and ranks No. 2 in field goal percentage (39.8) . . . Allen Crabbe (15.7) and Jorge Gutierrez (14.3), rank third and eighth in scoring, respectively . . . Sophomore Justin Cobbs is the Pac-12 leader in 3-point percentage, 57.6 . . . Cal’s roster includes one state of Washington native, freshman Christian Behrens from Tahoma High, a 2011 4A All-State player.
COACHES: Romar is in his 10th season as Washingtons head coach. His 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. He won his 200th game at Washington Dec. 16 when the Huskies defeated UC Santa Barbara.
Mike Montgomery: A four-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year and recipient of a John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching” Lifetime Achievement Award, Montgomery’s portfolio includes 21 postseason appearances, five conference championships and a Final Four appearance. In addition, last fall, Montgomery became the seventh active NCAA head coach to reach 600 Division I wins. Now in its fourth year at Cal, Montgomery led the Bears to their first conference championship in 50 years in 2010.
ART THIEL’S TAKE: Washington’s second half against WSU Sunday gave fans hope that the Huskies, even without Wilcox, are coming together. But Washington is down to a seven-man rotation, and one includes 6-2 freshman guard Hikeem Stewart, who isn’t quite ready for Pac-12 play.
Cal’s defense will be ready for Wroten, which means that Ross, N’Diaye, Gaddy and someone else has to come up large. Cal is not a great team — there isn’t one in the Pac-12 this year — but has Montgomery’s deployed insistence on fundamental soundness. A UW win will be the benchmark event of the year, but it won’t happen. Cal 73, Washington 70.
STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: Washington has not lost back-to-back conference games at home since dropping three in a row to No. 14 Stanford (65-51), California (79-75) and USC (73-59) from Jan. 31-Feb. 7, 2008. Given that Cal (Thursday) and Stanford (Saturday) have emerged as the Pac-12’s two best teams, and also given the fact that the Huskies will be missing C.J. Wilcox for the weekend, I can see UW dropping both games.
Impressive about Cal is that the Bears that they not only rank fourth in the conference in scoring, but first in scoring defense. Washington, the No. 2 scoring team in the league, barely bothers with defense. California 79, Washington 73.
COMING UP: Washington takes to the road for a pair at Arizona State (Jan. 26) and Arizona (Jan. 28). The Huskies return home Feb. 2, when they host UCLA.
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|
|11/20/11||at Saint Louis||—||—||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|
|12/16/11||vs. UC Santa-Barbara||—||—||W||87-80||5-4|
|12/18/11||vs. South Dakota St.||—||—||L||92-73||5-5|
|12/22/11||vs. Cal-State Northridge||—||—||W||74-50||6-5|
|12/29/11||vs. Oregon State||—||—||W||95-80||7-5|
|1/10/12||vs. Seattle U.||—||—||W||91-83||10-6|
|1/15/12||vs. Washington St.||—||—||W||75-65||11-6|
|1/26/12||at Arizona St.||—||—||—||—||—|
|2/12/12||at Oregon St.||—||—||—||—||—|
|2/16/12||vs. Arizona State||—||—||—||—||—|
|2/25/12||at Washington St.||—||—||—||—||—|