UW can't look past Trojans

After losing 61-87 at the Galen Center last month, Washington has something to prove in what will no doubt be a tough contest against USC. The Huskies enter their final weekend at home of the season Thursday, determined not to look past the Trojans before ESPN College Game Day on Saturday.

"With the way we lost, we definitely have to do something different," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said at his weekly press briefing. "We wouldn't be very bright if we looked over USC."

Romar made no excuses for his team's blowout loss, and had no single factor to point the blame too, other than the talent of a big USC team.

"This is probably the most difficult match up for us in this league because of their size and length," Romar said, noting their overall defensive prowess.

The prime victim of USC's defenders was Quincy Pondexter, who scored a season-low 2 points in that game. He remembers it as a definite low point in the season and an awful day for him personally. It was the same game USC guard Mike Gerrity came out of a slump, scoring some big shots and surprising the Huskies with his speed. Forward Marcus Johnson contributed a game-high 22 points and center Nikola Vucevic had 13 total rebounds. No one but Venoy Overton, who scored 18 points, had a standout game for the Huskies.

This week, however, the team will be back in the friendly confines of their home court coming off their first road win at Stanford last Saturday. The Huskies have won five of their last six and hope to continue to bury the memory of a home loss to Oregon with another big victory at Hec Ed.

Romar fielded questions about why younger guys like Abdul Gaddy have played fewer minutes in recent games. He said that with such high stakes day in and day out at this point in the season, he's relied on older players who have "been there before" to bear the pressure that comes with struggling to reach the NCAA Tournament.

Players, including Pac 10 Player of the Year candidate Quincy Pondexter, maintain faith that they can win the remainder of their games (two at home and three on the road) and earn an invitation to the Dance.

"It would be a huge disappointment if we didn't make the Tournament," Pondexter said. "I would take complete blame."

With a healthy Husky team about to play a USC team capable of dominating them at Galen, now is Washington's chance to prove they are still deserving of Tournament consideration. If not, their fate could depend on how they perform in the Pac 10 Tournament far from the support and familiarity of Hec Ed in Los Angeles next month.

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