Wilcox looks to battle way out of slump vs. Beavers

christian.caple@thenewstribune.comFebruary 22, 2014 

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Lorenzo Romar wasn’t sure his star senior guard could shake off the pain, so he put C.J. Wilcox on the bench for longer than usual in the first half of Wednesday’s loss at Oregon.

Wilcox had fallen hard in the game’s opening minutes, and his tailbone was well aware. It hurt, but UW’s leading scorer told Romar he was fine, went back in the game and played 34 minutes.

Slowed by the injury and hounded by Oregon guard Jason Calliste, Wilcox scored only nine points — he averages 18.4 — and made just two of his eight field-goal attempts.

The Huskies (14-13, 6-8 Pac-12 Conference) will need better production from their best player Saturday, when they visit Oregon State for a 1 p.m. game that also serves as UW’s final chance to snap an ugly road losing streak.

Wilcox is expected to play against the Beavers.

Regardless, Wilcox can’t do it by himself. The 3-point marksman has been the focus of each opposing defense this season. At times, he has had a hard time even getting open, let alone catching passes in position to put up shots.

Romar has encouraged Wilcox to be more aggressive, but the coach said Wednesday that “there’s opportunities there, (but) he’s such a team guy he doesn’t want to force it.”

Wilcox has said as much in recent weeks, though neither he nor UW has found a way to break him out of the mini-slump he’s in. During the Huskies’ last four games – three of them losses – Wilcox has scored in double figures just once, and has shot 12-of-44 (27 percent) from the field and 4-of-27 (15 percent) from 3-point range.

He’ll likely face tough defense again Saturday. The first time UW played OSU (14-11, 6-7), the Beavers deployed 6-foot-10 forward Eric Moreland to defend Wilcox. He finished with 14 points, but freshman guard Nigel Williams-Goss scored a career-high 32 points to pick up the slack.

UW will need similar contributions this time around.

“When C.J.’s down, it’s just time for other players to step up,” guard Andrew Andrews said. “We can’t rely on him every day to save us, even though that’s what he does. The way teams play him sometimes, it’s difficult for him, and that’s a lot of pressure on him. So we try not to put it on him and try to step up if he’s having a bad shooting night.”

Most of the time, those bad nights are a product of the other team sticking its best defender on Wilcox, who often is grabbed or otherwise impeded while trying to free himself to catch a pass.

“He’s (Wilcox) been banged up all season (by) a lot of teams, the way they play him,” Andrews said. “But he’s a soldier. He’ll bounce back when we play Oregon State. He’ll be ready to go.”

Washington tweaked its starting lineup Wednesday, inserting forward Shawn Kemp Jr. in place of Perris Blackwell, who still played 33 minutes and led UW with 17 points.

Blackwell said afterward that he asked Romar to come off the bench, thinking it might provide a spark. Kemp is expected to be in the starting lineup again Saturday.

“I had been feeling that way for a little while,” Blackwell said Wednesday. “I just felt like I need to go tell coach, so that’s what I did.”

ROY TO BE INDUCTED INTO PAC-12 HALL OF HONOR

The Pac-12 announced its 2013-14 Hall of Honor inductees Friday, and Brandon Roy (2003-06) is this year’s entrant from UW.

Ed Gayda (1947-50) is the representative from Washington State.

HUSKIES GAMEDAY

WASHINGTON (14-13, 6-8 PAC-12 CONFERENCE) AT OREGON STATE (14-11, 6-7)

1 P.M., GILL COLISEUM, CORVALLIS, ORE.

TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: 950-AM.

The series: Washington leads, 156-138.

PROJECTED STARTERS

OREGON STATE

Player Pos. Ht. PPG RPG APG FG% FT%

Hallice Cooke G 6-3 7.8 2.2 2.2 46.3 78.3

Roberto Nelson G 6-4 21.0 3.2 3.6 43.7 85.1

Langston Morris-Walker G 6-5 4.0 2.2 0.343.976.0

Eric Moreland F 6-10 8.5 9.7 1.8 43.6 58.7

Angus Brandt C 6-10 12.7 4.3 1.7 53.4 75.0

WASHINGTON Player Pos. Ht. PPG RPG APG FG% FT%

Nigel Williams-Goss G 6-3 13.3 4.2 3.9 45.8 70.8

Andrew AndrewsG 6-2 12.0 3.7 2.5 36.3 79.5

C.J. Wilcox G 6-5 18.4 3.8 2.7 45.1 85.4

Desmond Simmons F 6-7 4.8 3.9 0.6 45.9 75.0

Shawn Kemp Jr.F 6-9 4.1 1.9 0.1 55.8 63.6

Scouting report: Oregon State is the Pac-12 Conference’s biggest enigma. The Beavers are talented enough and have played well enough at times to beat anyone in the conference. But they still have many bad losses and are so inconsistent that opponents are frustrated by a loss to the Beavers. … Oregon State guard Roberto Nelson continues to lead the conference in scoring (21.0 points per game). In addition to forward Eric Moreland and center Angus Brandt, the Beavers bring forward Devon Collier off the bench to round out a skilled frontline. … Oregon State is also a strong 3-point shooting team, ranking second in the conference at 40.2 percent. Nelson and fellow guards Hallice Cooke and Langston Morris-Walker are players to watch in that department. … The Beavers are 11-2 in Corvallis this season, losing only to Coppin State and California. Oregon State can improve to .500 in the Pac-12 with a win over Washington.

christian.caple@thenewstribune.com christian.caple@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Christian_Caple

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