Now the Huskies will attempt to rebound by entertaining one of the most improved programs in the conference. Washington welcomes the Oregon Ducks into Hec Edmundson Pavilion tonight.
Oregon enters the contest ranked #19, and deservedly so. They have compiled an impressive 14-4 record and have gotten off to a 6-1 start in conference play. Two of those wins came over Lute Olson's Arizona Wildcats, one of them a 30-point thumping administered at "The Pit", Oregon's home venue that is one of the toughest places to play on the west coast. The drubbing was the worst ever absorbed by Olson since he began coaching.
Washington, on the other hand, needs to find their ailing second half offense. In games against California and Stanford, the Husky offense combined for a total output of 34 second-half points. Those anemic efforts must be turned around.
The Huskies schedule gets considerably easier after tonight's game with Oregon. The stretch of schedule the Dawgs will have just completed is considered the third toughest schedule in the country. Seven of their 11 losses have come against teams ranked in the top 25.
Still, Washington needs to win seven of their remaining contests to finish the season at .500. Tough wins at home are a must if they are to achieve that.
Doug Wrenn has been carrying the offense as of late, averaging 22 points per game over his last five games. He is averaging 16.6 points per game for the season on 43% shooting from the field. Curtis Allen is the only other Husky averaging in double figures at 12.2 points per game. David Dixon's 7.6 rebounds per game lead the team in that category. Dixon has played well in spells but his propensity to commit fouls (and often) has not allowed him to be consistent this season.
The three-point threats on the team have struggled as of late. Josh Barnard is third on the team in scoring (8.7 ppg) but has connected on just 23 of 61 treys, his specialty. He has cooled considerably since the road trip to Los Angeles. Grant Leep is hitting at a hot 60% from behind the three-point line but has only been able to get off 30 attempts. He is not getting open looks, thus rendering his outside shooting moot.
Boca Raton point guard Charles Frederick has yet to garner any meaningful playing time. He may have the most upside of any of the guards as he possesses physical gifts that neither starter Curtis Allen nor reserve Will Conroy have in their arsenal. Frederick may still be a bit rusty from lack of practice due to football season, but his time should be expanded even more if the Husky guards continue to struggle.
Oregon counters with a defense that is only allowing 66 points per game while their offense leads the league in pouring in 85.1 per game. Washington matches up well with the Ducks athletically but Oregon holds a distinct advantage at the point where Blaine, Washington, native Luke Ridenour is quickly becoming the top point guard in the conference. He has found the range from the three-point line this year as well, connecting on nearly 50% of his attempts. Curtis Allen is quicker than Ridenour, however, and could badger the sophomore into mistakes.
Oregon's Luke Jackson vs. Washington's Wrenn match up should be an entertaining one and could go a long ways in determining if the Huskies can stay competitive. If David Dixon runs into his old nemesis, foul trouble, the Ducks will own the boards and the paint with the 7-2 Chris Christofferson in the middle. The biggest mismatch perhaps in favor of the Ducks is at the off-guard position. Washington will attempt to stop Frederick Jones with Sterling Brown, Erroll Knight, and CJ Massingale, but Jones has the edge in experience over all three. Jones leads the Ducks in scoring and shoots 54% from the field when he's not sky walking his way to spectacular dunks.
Sterling Brown, a reserve walk-on guard, is expected to get some meaningful minutes tonight in an attempt to revive the slumping two-guard position. Freshman starter Erroll Knight has struggled mightily after a promising start to the season while CJ Massingale has shot only 33% from the floor. Something must be done and Brown is the likely candidate to be that much needed shot in the arm.
LIKELY STARTERS Washington ppg reb G Curtis Allen 6-0 170 So 12.7 4.5* G Sterling Brown 6-4 200 So 1.8 0.8 F Doug Wrenn 6-7 225 So 16.6 6.0 F Grant Leep 6-6 230 Sr 8.3 4.4 C David Dixon 6-11 270 Sr 7.8 7.6 Oregon ppg reb G Luke Ridenour 6-2 165 So 13.9 4.9* G Frederick Jones 6-4 209 Sr 15.9 4.9 F Luke Jackson 6-7 215 So 15.6 5.4 F Robert Johnson 6-8 235 Jr 8.2 7.8 C Chris Christofferson 7-2 300 Sr 9.1 4.9 * = Assists