Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar.
The University of Washington travels to Eugene, Oregon this weekend for their Saturday matchup against the Ducks.
The game pits the Huskies, who lost their their second consecutive conference game to Oregon State on Wednesday, and the Pac-12's last unbeaten team. It features Oregon's balanced scoring attack, two of the conference's best rebounders, the Pac-12's second leading scorer and best three-point shooter.
The Ducks are a talented team that can score, rebound and steal the ball. The Huskies can win if they have stellar game on defense and rebounding.
It's an intriguing game that will determine just how good the Huskies are. If they can beat the Ducks at home, it could set the tone for Washington's season the rest of the way.
Oregon's E.J. Singler attempting a layup.
Oregon has one of the most balanced offensive lineups in the league. At the beginning of this week, the Ducks average 76.4 points per game, second in the Pac-12.
Five Duck players have double-digit scoring averages: guard Damyean Dotson (11.9), center Tony Woods (11.3), forward E.J. Singler (10.4), forward Carlos Emory (10.4) and guard Dominic Artis (10.3).
This democratic group of scorers will make it difficult for Husky head coach Lorenzo Romar to determine who to prioritize on defense. It will require a disciplined effort by Washington to keep Oregon's unselfish group in check for the full 40 minutes of play.
Washington guard C.J. Wilcox
In contrast to Oregon's five double-digit scorers, junior C.J. Wilcox is Washington's main offensive weapon.
Wilcox hit a big roadblock in Washington's loss to Utah. He failed to score a single point in the opening 20 minutes of play. Wilcox finally managed to shake loose his defenders and finished the game with 14 points.
Wilcox leads the league in three-pointers per game (2.7) and total made (48). The Utah native will need to have his stroke for the entire game to help the Huskies earn an important Pac-12 road win.
Arsalan Kazemi grabbing a rebound against UCLA.
Oregon's Arsalan Kazemi (9.6 rebounds) and Washington's Aziz N'Diaye (9.4 rebounds) hold down the third and fourth spots in boards-per-game stats. N'Diaye averages 3.8 offensive rebounds, which is the league's best.
As a team, the Ducks are at the top team in rebounds (39.8 per game), while the Huskies are in 10th (36.7 per game). Both teams are tied for the number one spot with 13.1 offensive rebounds each.
This Pacific Northwest tussle features two of the best rebounders in the conference. If N'Diaye can dominate under the basket, he'll be a major factor in determining who wins or loses.
Aziz N'Diaye going for the block.
The Huskies live and die with their defense. In their first four Pac-12 conference games, Washington struggled on offense but kept their opponents to an average of 56 points.
In last Saturday's home loss to Utah, Washington failed to come out with the appropriate level of energy in the opening half of play. The Utes never trailed and earned their first Pac-12 victory of the year.
"I just think we came out and we were lack-lustered defensively," Romar said after the Utah game. "They shoot 60% against us. Give them a lot of credit, they sliced us up. We just took a step back. It wasn’t the type and level of defense we’ve been playing and it cost us."
If the Utah defeat was a wake up call for Washington, an upset may be in the cards for the Huskies.
Quotes were obtained from Washington Huskies communications.
Matthew Knight Arena.
Oregon leads the Pac-12 with nine steals a game. Washington averages a little more than half of this amount (4.56 steals-per-game).
Multi-faceted forward Kazemi Arsalan is not only a prolific rebounder, but also the Ducks' leader in steals (2.13 per game). He and guard Dominic Artis (1.83 steals-per-game) rank second and fourth, respectively, in the league rankings.
Washington's ability to keep Oregon's nab artists from "stealing" the game will be another important element to earn a win. Husky guards and ball-handlers C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs and Abdul Gaddy have to be aware and maintain control of the ball.
Oregon's offense thrives on rebounds and turnovers that are the drivers of their prolific offense. Washington will need to be attentive, physical and have a stellar defensive effort to hand the Ducks their first conference defeat of the season.
Pac-12 Conference Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com (as of January 22nd).