Ranked College Hoops Battle; #13 Washington at #18 Gonzaga
No. 13 Washington has a chance to do what no other visiting school has done – win at the McCarthey Athletic Center – and end the 44-game home winning streak of 18th-ranked Gonzaga as the two intrastate rivals meet Saturday for the final time before taking a hiatus in their rivalry.
Oddsmakers have made Gonzaga -7 point spread favorites (College Basketball Odds) for todays game, the over/under has
been set at 167 total points (View College Basketball Sports Books
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar opted to discontinue the series, which resumed on an annual basis in the 1996-97 season, in order to build a higher-profile schedule for Washington (7-0).
The Huskies were able to start a home-and-home series with No. 9 LSU this season and also added a home-and-home with No. 2 Pittsburgh that starts in February during one of their open Pac-10 dates.
Next season, in addition to facing LSU and Pittsburgh, they will play in the Pac-10/Big 12 Challenge against No. 6 Texas A&M and also participate in the 2007 Preseason NIT, leaving no room for Gonzaga (8-2) on the schedule for at least the next two seasons.
“The games we’re playing in place of Gonzaga, at LSU, the Big 12 challenge at Texas A&M, the Preseason NIT, those games are going to be televised on a national television audience,” Romar said. “Everyone around the country will see those games as opposed to just the state. Eventually, we’ll end up doing both, it just didn’t work out for now.”
Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth – a driving force in helping the West Coast Conference power build a national schedule to drop the dreaded “mid-major” label – dryly noted in October that the Huskies were “raising themselves to our level” when asked about Washington’s new scheduling philosophy.
Washington heads out to play its first road game after Monday’s 87-72 victory over Southern Utah. Ryan Appleby hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 24 points while freshman Spencer Hawes added a season-high 21 for the Huskies, who shot 58.3 percent from the field and received a career-high 11 assists from sophomore Justin Dentmon.
“That was the game that we have been looking for, where we put together 40 minutes of solid basketball,” Romar said.
The Bulldogs are 32-0 at McCarthey since it opened for the 2004-05 season, part of their 44-game run at home – the longest active streak in the country. Only 10 of those 32 games have been decided by fewer than 10 points, and Gonzaga is outscoring opponents by more than 14 points per game at the three-year-old arena.
Gonzaga’s rise to national prominence – helped by going 8-2 against the Huskies since the series resumed – has allowed it to make inroads recruiting in the state of Washington, sometimes at the expense of the Huskies.
Bulldogs center Josh Heytvelt was the focal point of a fierce battle in August 2002. Washington assistant coach Cameron Dollar was suspended and fined by the school after Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and Washington State reported him for improper contact.
Heytvelt – second on the Bulldogs in scoring at 17.3 points per game and averaging a team-high 7.9 rebounds – has no ill will toward the Huskies staff, but desperately wants to win.
“I don’t choose the schedule,” he said. “But if it is (the last year) we better come out on top, so they can’t talk any garbage to us.”
The Bulldogs are trying to bounce back from a surprising 77-67 loss Tuesday at Washington State. Heytvelt, who finished with 22 points, gave Gonzaga a 66-63 lead with two free throws with 3:38 to play, but Mark Few’s team had uncharacteristic breakdowns on both sides of the ball as the Cougars closed out the game with a 14-1 burst.
“We did a really, really poor job of defending in the last five minutes,” Few said of the decisive run. “We had a lot of silly turnovers.”
Washington, which leads the all-time series 29-13, overcame 43 points by Adam Morrison to defeat Gonzaga 99-95 last season, ending a seven-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.
The Huskies have not won at Gonzaga since 1944.
by: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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