UW Returns to Where it All Began

Last year's visit to the Willamette Valley proved to be an epiphany of sorts for the current PAC-10 co-leaders. They began it with a disheartening loss to Oregon to drop to 0-5 in conference play and ended it with a near-miraculous 103-99 overtime win over OSU - Washington has gone 33-7 since. The trip starts an arduous five-out-of-seven on the road for a Husky team looking to get seeded highly in couple of March proms.

#11 WASHINGTON (9-2, 19-3) at OREGON (3-7, 11-8)
McArthur Court, Eugene
Thursday, February 10 7:30 PM (FSN TV)
Last Meeting: January 13 – at Washington 77, Oregon 56

The last time these two rivals met, Oregon was riding along in the upper half of the early conference race. At 10-2, they were looking to get that one marquee win to show the conference they'd be a team to reckon with all season. They were leading the conference in field-goal percentage. The sense was that they were young, eager, and hungry.

It's been all downhill ever since.

At 3-6 in conference play, the Ducks have lost six-of-seven since their January visit to Seattle, and are currently on a five-game skid. Their offensive fortunes have slipped to the tune of 65 points per conference game. And now in ninth place, they find themselves in danger of even making the PAC-10 tournament in Los Angeles, much less any other sort of post-season play.

Teams have been jumping out early on senior-less Oregon. Their loss at Oregon State was the first time in three weeks they weren't behind by more than 10 at halftime. As a result, Coach Ernie Kent had his team scrimmage earlier this week, looking for a combination that might get out of the starting gates quicker.

Freshman Bryce Taylor, who led the Ducks in Seattle with 16 points, has been struggling mightily, averaging just four points over four games after scoring 42 in the Washington road swing. Aaron Brooks and Malik Hairston looked more aggressive while combining for 41 in the 76-72 loss to the Beavers, as Oregon shot 50 percent as a team and out-rebounded Oregon State but were done in by 21 turnovers. The Ducks moved to a three-guard starting lineup last week as sophomore Jordan Kent was inserted for center Ian Crosswhite, who has virtually disappeared this season and was suspended by Kent Wednesday. The results seemed to be positive for a team desperate to re-discover their early-season successes. They zoned a lot against the Beavers, and it shouldn't surprise if they try the same tack against the Huskies.

In their first meeting in Seattle, Washington scored the first 12 points of the contest, eventually stretching to a 25-5 lead. Oregon would close to within 11 points at half before coming out quacking with a seven-point run of their own to get to within 40-36 at the 18-minute mark. Then Bobby Jones awoke from a slumber with a three-point banker, starting the Huskies on a 15-2 run to win it pulling away. Tre Simmons enjoyed his first Husky double-double with 15 points and 12 boards.

Overall, the Huskies lead the series 175-99, with Oregon winning three out of the last five. Washington hasn't earned a season sweep over their border mates since 1998, and the Huskies own a 68-65 series lead in games played in Eugene – though they have lost their last three on Mac Court.

Coach Kent received his peace-accord flowers last week from his legion of DawgPack friends. In such a crucial period of Oregon's baskeball season, it's safe to say he won't be in the same spirit of giving on Thursday night.


POS  No. Name              HT   CL   PPG  RPG  
 F    1  Malik Hairston   6-6   FR  13.2  4.4  
 F    3  Mitch Platt      6-10  SO   3.6  2.4
 G   11  Jordan Kent      6-5   SO   4.7  3.6
 G    0  Aaron Brooks     6-0   SO  15.4  2.9 (4.4 APG)
 G    4  Bryce Taylor     6-5   FR  11.3  2.6

Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, OR
Sunday, February 13 1:00 PM (FSN TV)
Last Meeting: January 13 – at Washington 108, Oregon State 68

Washington looks for a second-straight season sweep of Oregon State – it was last year's game in Corvallis that is widely considered the turning point of Lorenzo Romar's program. Tre Simmons and Nate Robinson's sandwiched three-point bombs around a pair of OSU free throws in the final six seconds to get the Huskies miraculously to overtime and an eventual 103-99 win. It halted a 0-5 conference start and started that magical 12-1 run to the PAC-10 and NCAA tourneys.

In the team's first meeting, the Huskies blasted a 24-point first half run on the beleaguered Beavers, racing to a 51-26 halftime lead. Oregon State head coach Jay John would not return for the second half, as hypertension sent his blood pressure soaring to an overnight stay at the UW Medical Center. It was no contest in the second half, as Tre Simmons scored 26 points and Jamaal Williams added 24. Washington would out-board the Beavers 47-23. Nick DeWitz led the way for OSU with 17 points and J.S. Nash chipped in 12.

Senior all-conference forward David Lucas (17.2 ppg) had a highly forgettable day in Seattle, scoring just eight points in 20 minutes. Since then, Lucas has been a terror, averaging 20.6 points per contest - with a season-best of 27 at Arizona State. The Beavers are 8-1 at home this season, and average 80 points per home contest. Coach John has shuffled his starters depending on the situation, and has a pretty deep bench with senior J.S. Nash (9.8 ppg) and Croatian forward Sasa Cuic (10.8 ppg). Jason Fontenet give Oregon State speed at the point.

Senior forward Jim Hanchett will have shoulder surgery on Thursday and will be lost for the season. He joins Angelo Tsagarakis, who is red-shirting with a shoulder injury.

Oregon State owns a 93-44 advantage in games played in Corvallis. Washington has a 142-134 edge overall.

POS  No. Name              HT   CL   PPG  RPG 
  F  11  Nick DeWitz      6-8   JR  13.2  5.3
  F  30  David Lucas      6-7   SR  17.0  6.0
  C  35  Kyle Jeffers     6-9   SO   2.8  2.8
  G   1  Lamar Hurd       6-4   JR   2.5  3.0
  G  13  Chris Stevens    6-2   JR  10.3  2.5

Rick Samek can be reached at rsamek1@comcast.net

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