During Sean Millerís three and a half seasons at Arizona, no team has been a bigger proverbial thorn in the Wildcatsí side than Washington. The Huskies are the only Pac-12 team with a winning record against Arizona under Miller. Washington has inexplicably won five out of seven meetings, including a heartbreaker in the conference tournament final two years ago and last seasonís down to the wire finish in the whiteout matchup. The Huskies, losers of three straight, have been off their game lately. However, the crowd will be fired up in Seattle and Romarís club has a knack for stepping up against Arizona.
For most of the season, Washington has looked terrible. Thereís frankly no softer word to describe it. The Huskies, once revered for their dominant home court advantage, have already dropped five games at Hec Ed. Included are losses to Albany, Nevada, and Utah. They also lost a home game to Colorado State by 18 points.
For a brief spurt, Washington looked like it was starting to click. The Huskies roared to a 4-0 start in conference play, including road wins against Cal, Stanford, and rival Washington State. However, the Huskies have since fallen flat on their faces. Theyíve lost three straight, including a shocker to Utah. Washington is the only team in the conference to lose to either the Utes or the Beavers.
The Huskiesí offense largely revolves around C.J. Wilcox. The explosive junior averages 19 points per game, second highest in the conference. They have a solid point guard in senior Abdul Gaddy, a player Arizona fans know well and shouldnít be too sad about losing. Gaddy has been a decent playmaker, averaging 11.4 points and 3.5 assists per game. However, he has failed to live up to the hype that surrounded his recruitment out of high school.
Aziz NíDiaye is Washingtonís anchor in the middle. The 7-foot senior is a force on the defensive end, but never has developed an overwhelming offensive game. He averages 10.5 points and 9.2 rebounds. The Huskies have also received solid contributions from Scott Suggs, Andrew Andrews (thatís not a typo), and Desmond Simmons. Sophomore Shawn Kemp Jr. (yes, that Shawn Kemp) has also made an impact; heís coming off a career high 12 points and six rebounds against Oregon last game.
After epic, marquee matchups between these two teams the last few seasons, Washington isnít living up to its end of the billing this time. Still, this is a big game for the Wildcats for two reasons: first, itís a virtual must-win to stay in Pac-12 title contention; second, itís payback time. Arizonaís players will be hungry to finally drub Washington in Seattle. To get the victory, the Wildcatís need to play lockdown three-point defense, as the Huskies are the top shooting club in the conference from deep.
Nowís the perfect opportunity for Arizona to show the purple and gold nation what a true national power looks like. The Huskies have had their moments, but real dynasties persevere over time. The Wildcats are bigger, deeper, more talented, and better coached. All signs seem to point to an Arizona victory.
Share your prediction: will the Wildcats get the win, or will the Washington curse linger?