Huskies, Wilcox both looking to rebound

  • By Christian Caple Staff Writer
  • Friday, February 21, 2014 7:49pm
  • SportsSports

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 Pac-12 loss at Oregon.

Wilcox fell hard in the game?s opening minutes and his tailbone was sore. 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 just nine points ? he averages 18.4 ? and made just two of his eight field-goal attempts.

The Huskies (14-13, 6-8 in Pac-12) need better production from their best player today, when they visit Oregon State for a 1 p.m. game that also serves as UW?s final chance to snap a seven-game Pac-12 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 focal point of each opposing defense the Huskies have played against this season. At times, he?s had a hard time getting open, let alone catching passes in position to put up shots.

Romar has encouraged him to be more aggressive. As the coach said Wednesday ?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 have yet found a way to break him out of the mini-slump he?s in. During the Huskies? past four games ? three of them losses ? Wilcox has scored in double figures just once, and has made 12-of-44 (27.3 percent) from the field and 4-of-27 (16 percent) from 3-point range.

He?ll likely face a tough defense today. The first time UW played Oregon State (14-11, 6-7), the Beavers deployed 6-foot-10 forward Eric Moreland to defend Wilcox. Wilcox finished with 14 points, but freshman guard Nigel Williams-Goss scored a career-high 31 points to pick up the slack.

UW will need similar contributions this time.

?When C.J.?s down, it?s just time for other players to step up,? UW 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 (Wilcox) has 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. It?s not known whether he will continue in that role.

?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.?

Tip-in

The Pac-12 announced its 2013-14 Hall of Honor inductees on Friday, and Brandon Roy (2003-06) is this year?s entrant from UW. Ed Gayda (1947-50) is the representative from Washington State.

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