Game Preview: UW vs. Arizona (game #22)

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Who: Washington Huskies (4-5, 14-7 overall) vs. Arizona Wildcats (6-3, 12-9 overall)

When: Thursday, 7:30 PM

Where: Hec Edmundson Pavilion

Huskies 101: UW won both of its games last week at home, against Seattle U. (123-76) and Washington State (92-64).

This is game #2 of the Huskies’ “Ten and Your In” portion of the season. The task is no easy feat, but it’s nearly impossible to argue that the Huskies wouldn’t earn an NCAA bid — conference champs or not — if they can win the final ten games on their schedule. So far, so good.

Quincy Pondexter has scored 23 or more points in five of his last six games, and averages 20.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, and shoots 43.2% on 3-pt. FG.

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

Last time out: The Wildcats destroyed the Huskies, 87-70, at the McKale Center.

The Wildcats shot 50% from the field, 8-17 from deep, and had six players in double figures. The Dawgs had no answer for Jamelle Horne (22 points, six rebounds, two steals).

Quincy Pondexter had one of his worst games (7 points, only five FGAs); Elston Turner had one of his best (12 points, 3-6 on 3-pt. FG)

Wildcats 101: Winners of their last four games, Arizona is the hottest team in the Pac-10. The Wildcats are fresh off a character-building home win over Cal (76-72) on Sunday.

Nic Wise (16 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.8 apg) is the team’s senior leader, but freshman Derrick Williams (15.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 57.4 FG%) is making a strong case that he’s the team’s best player.

Projected lineup: G – Nic Wise, G – Kevin Parrom, G – Kyle Fogg, F – Jamelle Horne, F – Derrick Williams

The Huskies will win if: The Huskies will win if they play the way they have at home, where they’ve looked like a team that could beat (nearly) anyone in the country.

The Dawgs will win if Quincy and our bigs can contain the potent Wildcat frontcourt of Horne and Williams. The two combined for 34 points last time the teams played, compared to 15 total for Pondexter, Tyreese Breshers, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, and Darnell Gant, combined.

The Huskies will lose if: The Huskies will lose if they don’t focus on defense. The Dawgs only turned it over nine times, and shot a (semi-) respectable 44.2% last time. We just had no answer for Arizona on the defensive end.

The Dawgs will lose if theydon’t get something going from the outside. UW shot 5-17 from 3-pt. range the last time the teams met, and must do better this time around.

A humble suggestion: It’s not his favorite move — and maybe we’re so good at home we don’t need to — but what about double-teaming the post in a more “official” sense, as opposed to the flawed help defense the Huskies regularly run. I’d like to see our guys in the post get some more help possession-to-possession and try to keep Arizona taking lower-percentage outside shots. It’s unlikely they’ll find the hot streak from outside they did against us in Tucson.

Prediction: If we can win this, we’ll be in a good place going into Saturday’s game vs. ASU, with a chance to sweep our four-game homestand. I believe this is our toughest home game remaining (USC included) and truly could go either way. . .

But, I’m picking the Huskies in a high-scoring affair. The Oregon fluke aside, how can you pick against these guys at Hec Ed? 90-86, Dawgs.