Game Preview: UW at UCLA (game #18)


Who: Washington Huskies (3-3, 12-5 overall) at UCLA Bruins (2-3, 7-10 overall)

When: Thursday, 7:30 PM

Where: Pauley Pavilion

Huskies 101: What more can be said about the Huskies’ dominant weekend against Cal and Stanford?

Seeing the Dawgs play so well last week forces the question, coming into this week, of whether this team is capable of sustaining this level of play on the road. The Huskies have not won outside of Hec Ed all season, and likely won’t be able earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament without some quality road wins over the next six weeks.

Husky leader Quincy Pondexter broke out of his mini-slump by averaging 26 points and 7.5 rebounds in the Stanford and Cal games, and earning Pac-10 Player of the Week for the third time this year.

Isaiah Thomas has played within himself more recently, averaging 17.6 points and distributing an average of five assists in the last three games.

Lorenzo Romar seems to have firmed up his rotation, the biggest change being the addition of Justin Holiday to the starting lineup.

Holiday’s pedestrian statistical totals (3.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg) fail to tell the whole story of his impact on the court. Holiday suffered a concussion last weekend, but is expected to start Thursday.

Projected lineup: G – Abdul Gaddy, G – Isaiah Thomas, F – Justin Holiday, F – Quincy Pondexter, F – Tyreese Breshers

UCLA 101: The Bruins have lost three of their last four, and are in the midst of a wildly inconsistent season. No one is accusing the Bruins of being a Final Four contender this year, but at their best, as in their wins against Cal and Arizona State, they’re a dangerous team.

They’ve also had their share of headscratcher losses against teams like Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton.

Guard Malcolm Lee (13.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.6 apg) is, arguably, the most talented Bruin, and Michael Roll (13.4 ppg, 43.3% 3-pt.) is a skilled marksman.

Freshman Reeves Nelson (10.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has filled in nicely for the Bruins top post player, Drew Gordon, who left the team for good early this season.

Even in a down year, UCLA will be a formidable opponent for the Huskies at Pauley Pavilion, where the Huskies have only won once since 1988.

Projected lineup: G – Malcolm Lee, G – Michael Roll, F – Tyler Honeycutt, F – Nikola Dragovic, F – Reeves Nelson

The Huskies will win if: They forget that they’re not in the friendly confines of Hec Ed and pick right up where they left off this weekend.

The Dawgs will win if they continue to let defense be their guide. When the Huskies force turnovers, they win.

The Dawgs will win if they can again get out to a fast start and not look back. They have more talent than the Bruins and the first eight to ten minutes of the game will be the best chance to overwhelm UCLA and assert their dominance.

The Huskies will lose if: We see the same team we’ve seen on the road in efforts against the Arizona schools and Georgetown. There’s something about the team’s execution that’s been off on the road thus far, and it’s time to put that in the past.

A humble suggestion: Pain me as it does (since it’s taken me a bit to become a believer), I admit Scott Suggs has been more impressive than Elston Turner this season. Having a reliable outside shooter on the team adds another necessary dimension to the Husky offense. But, neither Turner or Suggs bring much besides shooting, and I’m underwhelmed with the team’s play when both players are on the floor. Great to see Suggs improve, and give Turner the chance to find his shot again, but how ’bout we only see these guys one at a time?

Predictions: The road woes end here. The team can’t afford to look past this one, but I can, and I think we’ve got a battle on tap Saturday against a tough USC team. This one’s all about the Huskies, though, as they continue to roll against UCLA, 81-64.