EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon’s foundation isn’t a mix of smoothly cut, meticulously arranged planks.
It’s a mish-mash, a conglomerate that would throw off any carpenter’s level and make a host of “This Old House” wonder how it stood so long.
The 16th-ranked Ducks rely on two transfer big men, Tony Woods and Arsalan Kazemi, two freshmen guards, Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis, and a homegrown leftover, E.J. Singler.
Somehow, Oregon coach Dana Altman has hammered and taped the group together in his third season and has the Ducks atop the Pacific-12 Conference with a 6-0 record.
Then, there’s Washington.
The Huskies have dropped consecutive games after starting 4-0 in Pac-12 play. Those two losses came against teams that were previously a combined 0-10 in conference prior to knocking around the Huskies for wins. Washington never led in either game.
When the Huskies wander into shiny if not over-populated Matthew Knight Arena today – the Ducks drew 6,946 Wednesday against Washington State – it will be the first step in a land mine-filled road. Washington plays at Oregon, then hosts No. 6 Arizona and Arizona State before going to UCLA. Those four teams are a combined 64-12 overall and 20-5 in the Pac-12.
The records are daunting but also inviting. Washington couldn’t fix its missteps last season, when the conference was weak. Starting today, multiple chances for attention-grabbing wins are available.
“If we can get this done at Oregon, I think it can shoot us in the right direction,” Washington guard C.J. Wilcox said. “If we lose, you never know.”
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar has hinted the Huskies’ players held their last two opponents in low regard despite being urged to pay attention. Perhaps Washington thought those 0-5 records were assurances of success.
Romar says no such assumption will be applied to Oregon, which is undefeated at home, extending an overall 19-game home winning streak.
The Ducks have recently fought Washington with a fervor, particularly in last season’s final game for the Ducks, a 90-86 loss at Washington in an NIT quarterfinal. Oregon blasted the Huskies in Eugene last season for an 82-57 conference win.
“If our pattern holds true – there is a very healthy respect for Oregon – so, I think because of that, our team will come out and be focused,” Romar said. “What that will translate into to? I don’t know. We’ll be focused. I don’t think there has to be a whole lot of any yelling or whatever it is. I think we’ll be fine in terms of our approach.”
History is against Washington. The Huskies are 11-109 all-time on the road against Associated Press Top-25 teams. The Huskies’ last win over a ranked opponent was March 12, 2011, versus No. 16 Arizona in the Pac-10 tournament championship game, when Isaiah Thomas made a last-second basket in overtime to secure an NCAA tournament berth. UW last won a game against a Top-25 team in the opponent’s gym on Jan. 31, 2009, at Arizona State.
“We’ve done it before,” point guard Abdul Gaddy said. “We have a good team. I believe when we’re playing at our best, we’re a really good team.
“There’s no secret. We just have to go do it.”
Washington (12-7 overall, 4-2 PACIFIC-12 CONFERENCE) at No. 16 Oregon (17-2, 6-0)
4 p.m., Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, Ore.
TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: 950-AM, 102.9-FM.
All-time series: Washington leads, 186-105.
Scott Suggs F220.127.116.119.787.9
Desmond SimmonsF18.104.22.168 34.5 74.0
Aziz N’DiayeF10.79.50.3 63.445.7
Scouting report: The Ducks have six players who average 8.8 points per game or more. They switch defenses often. They like to run and shoot 3s on the break. Transfer Arsalan Kazemi, who was likely to be a strong candidate for conference player of the year in Conference USA if he had stayed at Rice, will matchup with Desmond Simmons. That should be a fun battle between the undersized rebounders. Six-foot-11 Tony Woods is one of the few guys in the league who almost stands eye-to-eye with Aziz N’Diaye. Carlos Emory is a high-flyer off the bench for Oregon. He brings some pep along with experienced but diminutive guard Johnathan Loyd.
Next: No. 6 Arizona visits UW at 6 p.m. Thursday (ESPN).email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas firstname.lastname@example.org