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Originally published February 9, 2010 at 10:01 PM | Page modified February 10, 2010 at 7:32 PM

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Washington men need to cure road woes this week

Washington's 0-6 record on the road is a concern, but coach Lorenzo Romar believes his team will play with more energy this week at California and Stanford.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Thursday

UW @ California, 6 p.m., ESPN2

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Sorry, Leona, but you might be staying home this time.

During a discussion on Washington's 0-6 road losing streak, coach Lorenzo Romar joked about heeding a request from an assistant and leaving his wife in Seattle when Washington travels to the Bay Area for Thursday's game at California.

"This year, with our kids out of the house, my wife has been going on the road trips, and we may just leave her home," Romar deadpanned Tuesday afternoon at his weekly news conference. "That may be the whole issue at this point."

Romar's comment drew big laughs, but Washington's struggles on the road are no joke.

"I don't know what it is, but she's definitely not the bad-luck person," senior captain Quincy Pondexter said. "If anything, she helps us win games.

"Whoever the bad-luck person is, don't come. Whoever has come on the other trips that we lost, don't come to this one. Stay at home. Watch it on TV and we'll take care of business."

There's plenty at stake Thursday in Berkeley, Calif., starting with first place in the Pac-10.

The Golden Bears (15-8) lead the conference with a 7-4 record and the Huskies (16-7) are one of five teams a game behind at 6-5.

The contest also features two of the leading Pac-10 Player of the Year candidates in Pondexter and Cal senior Jerome Randle, who committed a season-high eight turnovers and was held to a season-low five points in their first meeting, an 84-69 UW victory Jan. 16.

"It's going to have to be different," Bears coach Mike Montgomery said. "They did a great job defending him, and we turned the ball over too much. We're going to have to take care of the ball. And we're going to have to shoot better.

"You've got to win on your home court if you can or you shouldn't expect to compete for top spots, and that's probably the way it should be."

Isaiah Thomas, who defended Randle and finished with 20 points, six rebounds and three assists, expects Randle to be extra motivated for the rematch.

"I'm sure he's going to want to play better than he did last time," Thomas said. "And he probably will because he's at home."

Still the question is whether the Huskies will play better on the road, where they've lost nail-biters at Texas Tech and UCLA and were thumped at Arizona State, Arizona, and USC, and against Georgetown in Anaheim, Calif.

Washington averages 86.4 points at home and 68.1 on the road. UW opponents average 66.8 points at Edmundson Pavilion and 79.5 elsewhere.

Romar said their difficulties aren't a mental problem, but a lack of energy.

The Huskies didn't play with energy against the Arizona schools in their first meetings and they lost by 17 points in both games. They had even less energy at USC and played perhaps their worst game of the season, an 87-61 defeat.

Romar said he can tell early if the Huskies have energy on the road.

"How many shots are we contesting?" he said. "When there's a loose ball, how quick are we to go after a loose ball? Are we running the floor? How quick are we reacting in situations? Those things early will give you a decent indication what kind of energy we're playing with."

To combat a lackluster start, Romar said he'll rely on UW's deep bench.

"A quick timeout sometimes helps," he said. "Or a couple of substitutions. Or five substitutions sometimes can help."

Washington is confident after a 4-0 homestand and positioned to make a run at a second straight conference title.

But to repeat as champions, the Huskies will need to cure their inability to win on the road. They play five of their seven remaining regular-season games on the road, including Saturday at Stanford.

"I'm more curious than concerned," Romar said. "I would be shocked if we go on the road here, and go on the floor and don't have any energy. I'd just be shocked."

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

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