UW Hoops Preview - Portland

After a rough stretch of games, the Washington Huskies will attempt to regain their form against a dangerous underdog in the University of Portland. The game, which will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Bank of America Arena, is one that Washington has had their fair share of struggles with over the recent years.

With an all-time record of 11-2 against the Pilots of Portland, the Huskies suffered their first defeat since 1994 to them last year. Both losses came at Portland. Last year's poor result was 80-74, and although Husky legend Jon Brockman scored 30 points and had 14 rebounds, it wasn't enough to overcome the big German national, Robin Smeulders, and his presence in the post. The 6-foot-10 Smeulders finished with 20 points and six rebounds.

Having gotten off to an extremely hot start, including a brief appearance in the top-25, Portland has begun to level out. Currently the Pilots are sitting at 6-3 after having started the season at 5-0. One thing they have going for them is their tough schedule to date, with signature wins over Oregon, UCLA and Minnesota. They also have beaten Seattle University, Eastern Washington and Denver. Their three losses have been to West Virginia, Idaho and crosstown rival Portland State.

An upperclassman-laden team, Portland have mostly been together for the past three years and are a very experienced team. This year, senior Nik Raivio has stepped up his game and is developing into a solid contributor, with an average of 14.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

T.J. Campbell, a diminutive point guard standing in at a listed 5-foot-9, will keep UW guard Isaiah Thomas' hands full on Saturday. So far this season he is averaging a respectable 14.6 points and 5.6 assists per game.

Husky Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said that while they are a great 3-point shooting team, their biggest strength lies on something that can't be seen on the box score.

"Unbelievable 3-point shooting team. Very disciplined. They've got really good size," Romar said. "Their point guard, T.J. Campbell, is about 5-9, 5-10, but then after that they go 6-4, 6-6, 6-10 and 6-10, so they got really good size. And they play well together. They shoot the ball well, but the biggest strength is they're a senior dominated team.

"That team has been together for three years. Most people forget that when those guys were freshmen and sophomores, they came in here and almost beat us in here. And that was when they were young, starting out. So they've grown together. When teams grow together and when they're seniors…that experience...it says a lot."

Having played the Pilots 13 times since their first game in 1944, there has been only two true blowouts by the Huskies. Look for another tightly contested game from Portland.

After the Pilots leave town, Washington will return to action on Tuesday the 22nd, when they take on the 8-2 Texas A&M Aggies at Bank of America Arena. The game is at 7 p.m.


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