The Huskies hope to keep it up this evening.
In town is a Stanford team that handed UW its first Pacific-10 Conference loss four weeks ago in Palo Alto. The Huskies hope to reverse that result tonight, and they have motivation on their side.
“We remember that they threw the ball in the air, they celebrated, and we’ll be ready,” UW guard Isaiah Thomas said of the Cardinal, who will face the Huskies today at 5:30 p.m.
Stanford had every reason to celebrate after shocking UW, which was ranked 17th in the nation and unbeaten in league play when the teams squared off on Jan. 13. The Cardinal had a respectable 9-5 overall record and had won two of their first three conference games, but Stanford didn’t appear to have any realistic shot at being a Pac-10 contender.
Then the Cardinal rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit and shocked UW 58-56.
“I think it grounded us,” UW senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning said this week. “That’s why I think we came back so strong against Cal (in a 92-71 win two days later). We got back to playing with a lot more intensity, and we were trying not to have any more slipups. It was a close game, and we know that in this league, anybody can beat anybody.”
Since the upstart Cardinal proved that theory by knocking off the Pac-10’s biggest dog, the Huskies lost their bite, so to speak, for a time. Heading into this week, UW had lost three games in a row while falling into third place in the Pac-10.
The Huskies’ 109-77 win over California on Thursday night helped restore some order in Husky Nation, but all that love could be gone by Valentine’s Day if UW loses again to Stanford tonight.
“I think we’ll be dialed in,” said Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar, who added he would have been “surprised if we weren’t dialed in” for Thursday’s game against Cal.
Working in UW’s favor today is a renewed focus on defense and one of the more significant home-court advantages in college basketball. The Huskies (16-7 overall, 8-4 in the Pac-10) are one of 26 Division I teams to have won all their home games this season and one of just two — the other is Northern Colorado — to have beaten each visiting opponent by double-digit margins.
Among the teams unbeaten at home, UW holds the highest margin of victory, at 27.3 points. The only other teams with margins of victory above 25 points at home are 18th-ranked Kentucky (25.9) and No. 1 Ohio State (25.8).
Romar was asked after the Cal game Thursday night whether he’s ever had a UW team that has had such a wide disparity between home and road performances.
“I don’t think we have, to be honest with you,” he said. “If there’s a way to close the gap a little bit, then we could really be a tough team down the stretch here.”
With just two road games remaining before the postseason, the Huskies won’t have too many chances to close that gap.
Their only objective tonight is to continue their dominance at home. And in the process, maybe UW can get a little revenge.
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