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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Analysis: Huskies ready for payback

The Wildcats might taste a dose of their own medicine tonight.

Having used defensive stops to trigger home crowd energy and dictate tempo, Arizona travels to the always-hostile Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle to take on a team gunning for those same tactics.

The Huskies similar man-to-man defense was destructed in Tucson just two weekends ago, allowing 87 points in a loss that also marked the last time the University of Washington was ranked. A season-high six Wildcats scored in double figures last meeting, led by Jamelle Horne’s game-high 22 points.

Tonight will yield a whole different atmosphere — and potentially different results — favoring the Huskies this time.

“”They feed off their crowd,”” UA coach Sean Miller said. “”They really create turnovers and pressure the other team with their man-to-man defense. That generally leads them into more transition points.

“”I think the thing that both Washington and Washington State have that makes it difficult to beat both teams, especially on their home courts, is they both can be very explosive on offense,”” he added. “”Our defense will be challenged at a very high level.””

Relying on the home atmosphere, as Miller credited in last weekend’s sweep against the Bay Area schools, can make a young team look veteran — especially when forcing turnovers or quick shots.

The Wildcats held California to just 37.7 percent from the floor.

The young Wildcats, with 13 underclassmen on the roster, reversed roles against a veteran California team in McKale, but maintaining that energy on the road is a different story that Arizona is slowly learning.

As of February, road crowds are nothing new. This weekend marks Arizona’s 11th and 12th away games of the season — compared to 11 home games so far.

“”It definitely benefits us playing at home,”” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “”What we have to do is create that energy in ourselves on the road. Our crowd is great, our student section is great. We have a lot of confidence when we’re playing here.

“”The way we play basketball, a lot of it is due to high level intensity,”” he added. “”When we don’t bring that intensity we’re not a very good team.””

Romar admitted the Huskies dug themselves a hole in the first half of the Pacific 10 Confrence schedule. Stumbling out of the gates, UW fell from a top-10 ranked team to the bottom tier of the sixth-best conference in college basketball.

The Huskies lost five of seven conference games heading into last weekend.

“”In each game, the opponent is not as big of a concern as us coming out and playing the way we’re suppose to play,”” Romar said. “”We can’t get caught up … too much in other things.

“”Arizona soundly beat us last time. They’re playing arguably the best basketball in the Pac-10. Unless we come out and play the way we’re capable, it doesn’t matter who we play,”” he said.

Washington came out strong in the second half against Washington State on Saturday for a statement 92-64 win against their in-state rivals.

Said UW point guard Isaiah Thomas after the game on his Twitter: “”Great Win 4 our team..we takin this thing Day by day and Game by Game.. WE ALL WE GOT! Husky Nation here we come.””

Day by day, that’s all Washington can do at this point.

Now into the second half of Pac-10 play, can it go any more unpredictably than the first half?

“”I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that I have no idea,”” Romar said. “”I couldn’t have predicted what’s happened to this point.””

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