A Desert Swarm comes calling

Lute Olson (AP/Mark Terrill)

After dispatching Washington State with solid play on both ends of the court last week, the Huskies face a much tougher task this weekend as they conclude a three-game homestand against #2 Arizona on Thursday and Arizona State on Saturday. Washington (8-10, 3-6) looks to win two games in a row for the first time since they won three in a row against Florida International, Houston, and Cal State Northridge earlier in the season.

State of the Huskies

The Huskies are a different team when playing at home. With a 7-4 record at home and a 1-6 record on the road, Washington averages a 6.9 points margin of victory at Bank of America Arena. In contrast, they are usually outscored by 15 points on other courts.

Sophomore guard Will Conroy continues to be the top surprise of the season. For someone who was not even listed as a potential contributor by many preseason publications, Conroy has done his part to silence his critics and may be the most improved player in the Pac-10 this season. Conroy leads the team in scoring (13.3 ppg) and assists (4.3 apg).

Junior forward Doug Wrenn, just a year removed from an All Pac-10 selection and a 19.5 ppg average, continues to struggle on the court and will come off the bench until further notice. Wrenn is second behind Conroy in scoring at 13.1 ppg, and leads the team in rebounding with a 6.3 rpg average. However, Wrenn is shooting only 38% from the field which is ninth on the team, and is having his worst year on the free throw line (48-91, 52.7%).

With Nate Robinson getting his second straight start, he should have a much tougher task defending Arizona's Jason Gardner than the Washington State guards he faced last week.

Freshmen Brandon Roy continues to show steadily improving play and is building up his confidence. Roy tallied his first six career points against the Cougars and looks to be a factor against Arizona and Arizona State, a road trip he missed due to his status not being cleared on time.

Should the Huskies defeat #2 Arizona at home on Thursday, history indicates the crowd will rush the floor so it is best to be prepared.

Looking at Arizona

The Arizona Wildcats (16-2, 8-1) come into Thursday's game as the second ranked team in the nation, thanks in part to an upset loss to Stanford last Thursday. With an earlier loss to LSU, it was the second time this season the Wildcats were upset while at the top of the polls.

After the loss to Stanford, Arizona fell into a tie with California for the top spot in the Pac 10 going into their much anticipated game with the Golden Bears last Saturday.

The game ended with only Arizona standing at the top of the hill after taking down Cal by a score of 95-80. Senior All-America Jason Gardner led six Arizona players in double digit scoring with 18 points.

Arizona has a high scoring offense that averages 85 points per game which leads the conference. (On the contrary, the Huskies average 71 points per game) Gardner leads the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game, and right behind him are Salim Stoudamire (12.2 ppg), Hassan Adams (11.5 ppg), and Rick Anderson (10.7 ppg). Senior forward Luke Walton is averaging 8.6 points per contest.

Center Channing Frye is having a sold year as the main man in the middle for the Wildcats. The 6-10 sophomore out of Phoenix, AZ is averaging 9.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, as well as 1.7 blocks per game.

The Wildcats as a team leads the conference in scoring margin (+16.2) and rebounding (43.8 rpgs)

January 11, 2003: Arizona 79, Washington 61

It was ugly game with a lot of hope at the beginning. Washington scored the game's first five points but that alone was the highlight of their night. Arizona's Salim Stoudamire scored six of his 23 points during an 18-4 run in the second half that gave Arizona a decisive win over the Huskies at home at the McKale Center.

Doug Wrenn, who scored 35 points in Tucson last season, was held to only 11 points to lead the Huskies in scoring along with Nate Robinson's 11.

It was a game that saw the Huskies commit 27 personal fouls to send Arizona to the free throw line 30 times, while the Huskies only managed to get to the charity stripe 13 times. Both Wrenn and Bobby Jones fouled out of the game, and Robinson and Anthony Washington each had four personal fouls.

Arizona's Jason Gardner had 11 points and 9 assists, and Channing Frye had 10 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks.

Washington, .414 from the field that night which was until last Thursday, their best shooting day during conference play.

Looking at Arizona State

The Sun Devils are currently tied with Oregon at third place in the Pac 10. After winning eight of their previous nine games, the Devils find themselves in a slump of sorts after losing three of their last four including a 57-58 loss to Stanford at home on Saturday.

Freshmen forward Ike Diogu is having a sensational first year and may be ASU's best big man since Mario Bennett. The freshmen out of Garland, TX is averaging 18.2 and 6.2 rebounds per game and is only one of four players in the Pac 10 to score double digits in all of their games played. (Diogu, Luke Ridnour, Joe Shipp, Brian Wethers)

Senior guard Curtis Millage is averaging 14.2 points per game and is the team's second leading scorer. Millage led the team with 16 points in the last meeting with Washington in Tempe earlier this season.

Tommy Smith is averaging 9.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The senior forward also leads the Pac 10 with 51 blocked shots for a 2.5 average.

The Sun Devils are the top shooting team in the conference (47.6%), and leads the conference in blocked shots (4.95 bpg).

ASU is 5-5 away from their home court this season and have lost six of their past seven games in Seattle.

January 9, 2003: Arizona State 89, Washington 57

Flying high after a dramatic win against USC, the Huskies traveled down to Tempe with their heads up and confidence high. They were in for a rude awakening however when the Sun Devils put on a shooting clinic.

Arizona State was led by Curtis Millage's 16 points and Tommy Smith scored 13 points, pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds, and knocked down six blocked shots in their rout of the Huskies.

The Huskies had one of their worst shooting nights of the season by making only 33.9% of their shots. The Sun Devils contributed to that statistic by blockin 13 shots on the evening, a record for a UW opponent.

The teams were tied at 13 in the first half before Ike Diogu led ASU on a 17-5 run that gave the Sun Devils the lead for the rest of the contest. Diogu finished the night with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Arizona State out-rebounded Washington 47-28.

Will Conroy led the Huskies with 13 points, while Doug Wrenn and Bobby Jones each contributed 10 points each.

Notes

It looks as if the four freshmen and one sophomore combination for the starting lineup will be in tact for at least one more game.

Washington has not defeated a team that was ranked #2 or higher since February 22, 1979 when the Huskies defeated #1 UCLA at home by a score of 69-68. It was a game that featured a guard on the Washington team by the name of Lorenzo Romar. The last time the Huskies did defeat a ranked opponent was last season when Washington topped #19 Oregon, 94-92.

Arizona has a seven game winning streak against Washington and is 35-15 all-time against the Huskies. They are 13-11 in Seattle, and have won three straight games in Seattle.

Arizona State is 32-20 all-time against the Huskies in a series that began in 1978. In their last visit to Hec Ed, Washington defeated ASU 81-68.

Game Time
Thursday, February 6th 2003
Bank of America Arena @ Hec Ed Pavilion – Seattle, WA
7:30pm – TV: Fox Sports Net

Saturday, February 8th 2003
Bank of America Arena @ Hec Ed Pavilion – Seattle, WA
4:00pm – TV: Fox Sports Net

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