Payback time

Despite a 12-6 record and winning 12 of their past 13 Pac-10 contests, the Washington Huskies have a score to settle with the UCLA Bruins. The team from Westwood was the only league foe to sweep the Dawgs this year. Although the Huskies may not match up well with UCLA, the incentive will certainly be there to turn the tables on the Bruins. There could be a lot riding on this game for the Huskies, as if they needed more motivation.

#2 Washington (17-10) vs. #7 UCLA (11-16)
Thursday March 11 - 6:15 PM
Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA
The Teams

UCLA finished with a 7-11 in the Pac-10. Dijon Thompson is their biggest scoring threat (14.5 ppg) and shoots just a shade under 40% from beyond the arc. T.J. Cummings has been the Husky killer though, and he averages over 12 points and 7 boards per game while shooting nearly 87% from the free throw line. Trevor Ariza is also a weapon, pouring in 11.5 points per game and pulling down over 6 rebounds per contest.

The Bruins may be dangerous, as they enter this game having lost their last five games, their final one a one-point loss to Oregon in Eugene after being outscored 37-30 in the second half. They will come out with nothing to lose, and will certainly not fear the Huskies since they have beaten them twice.

Bobby Jones is Washington's best defender and he may be matched against Cummings on the defensive end. If he can keep him off the boards and from establishing position in the paint, the Huskies will be in good shape. However, Cummings has range out to 20 feet and is lethal from the baseline. He's also a load at 6-10 and 220 pounds.

Expect the Huskies to counter with Will Conroy on Thompson and Brandon Roy on Ariza. Mike Jensen could have problems staying out of foul trouble against the Bruin bigs. Hollins is 6-11 and Fey, whose minutes have been reduced lately, is 7-0. Anthony Washington could really help here with a solid defensive effort and boxing out on the defensive boards.
Recap of this year's games

Washington lost to the Bruins in overtime, 86-84 at home, for their fourth consecutive league loss back in January. The Huskies languished all night until roaring back in the final four minutes to force the overtime. However T.J. Cummings had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Dijon Thompson scored 13, including two free throws with 10.5 seconds remaining in overtime. UCLA freshman Trevor Ariza scored five of his 21 points in overtime, while Michael Fey added 12 points. 29 from Will Conroy were not enough for the Dawgs.

In the rematch at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins once again used their superior height advantage to control the boards and knock off the Dawgs 80-75. Again Cummings hurt the Dawgs, this time with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and UCLA ended its six-game losing streak. Reserve guard Ryan Wolcott also gave the Bruins a lift in the second half. Brandon Roy had a career high 30 points, as the Huskies were forced to once again roar from behind in the final minutes. They eliminated all but one from an 11-point Bruin lead with 38 seconds left. But two Dijon Thompson free throws followed and a Mike Jensen three-pointer as the clock was winding down was long, not drawing iron.

That loss was Washington's 18th in a row in Los Angeles to the Bruins, and was also the last Pac-10 loss of the season for the Huskies. The Dawgs now hope that the third time will be the charm this season against UCLA. Although the game is once again in Los Angeles, this time it will be at the Staples Center, and although it is far from a neutral court, at least it isn't Pauley, which has been a house of horrors for the Huskies.

The last time a Washington team beat UCLA in basketball on the road was in 1987.
Keys to the game

1) Run, run, run
Washington has made their living in transition during their current winning streak. When their opponent misses and the Dawgs are able to corral the rebound, good things happen. The Huskies are more athletic than the Bruins and are quicker on the wings, but the problem has been keeping the taller and lankier Bruins from grabbing the boards.
2) Shoot to thrill
UCLA, with their big post players Hollins, Fey, and Cummings, will be content to sit in a zone and make Washington shoot over them. They know they'll have a significant edge on rebounds and will make the Huskies hit open shots. Jensen can help by pulling Cummings and Hollins out of the paint by hitting some early jumpers. Tre Simmons will be crucial to victory if the Bruins pack tightly in a zone. Conroy also has been deadly from the top of the key in crucial situations when the Dawgs have needed some punch.
3) No jitters
Washington knows what is at stake here, and they need to avoid being tight. Play with passion but don't force it. The reason this Husky team is so much better than it's predecessors over the past several years is that they take care of the ball and make good decisions with it. Conroy, Allen, and Robinson need to keep the motion offense flowing, run the transition offense, take their shots when they come, and not force the action into the UCLA trees.

If Washington wins this game, they are more than likely going to be selected to participate in the NCAA tournament. They know it. UCLA knows it.

Let's play some basketball.
Likely UCLA Starters
G Dijon Thompson     6-7 jr (14.5 ppg)
G Cedric Bozeman     6-6 jr (7.6 ppg, 5.4 apg) 
F Trevor Ariza       6-8 fr (11.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
F T.J. Cummings     6-10 sr (12.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
C Ryan Hollins      6-11 so (6.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
Key Bench players
C Michael Fey        7-0 so (6.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg)  
G Janou Rubin        6-3 jr (4.4 ppg)
G Brian Morrison     6-2 jr (7.3 ppg)
G Ryan Walcott       6-1 jr (1.0 ppg)
Likely UW Starters
G Will Conroy        6-2 jr (12.3 ppg, 4.6 apg)
G Nate Robinson      5-9 so (12.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
G Brandon Roy        6-6 so (13.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
F Bobby Jones        6-6 so (11.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
C Mike Jensen        6-9 so (7.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
Key Bench players
G Tre Simmons        6-6 jr (10.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
G Curtis Allen       6-0 sr (4.9 ppg)
F Hakim Rollins      6-6 jr (5.3 pg, 3.7 rpg)
F Anthony Washington 6-9 so (3.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg)

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