Defense could decide Ducks-Huskies rematch
In a matchup of teams with high-scoring offenses, the winner of Tuesday's NIT quarterfinal matchup could be the one that makes stops.
Seattle Times staff reporter
NIT: Oregon @ UW, 6 p.m., ESPN
After all the talk about being eager for a rematch, Washington and Oregon basketball players turned their pregame chatter into a serious discussion about defense.
And perhaps Terrence Ross summed up Tuesday's National Invitation Tournament quarterfinal game better than anyone.
"It's all about getting stops," the UW sophomore guard said. "Whichever team does that will have a good chance at winning."
After scoring a career-high 32 points against Northwestern last Friday, Ross figures to be a primary defensive target of the Ducks in the 6 p.m. game at Edmundson Pavilion.
In their last meeting, an 82-57 Oregon victory in Eugene on Feb. 9, the Ducks held Ross to eight points, his third-lowest output this season, on 4-of-12 shooting.
The Ducks will also focus on containing sophomore guard C.J. Wilcox, who came off the bench and scored 24 points in Washington's 76-60 win over Oregon in Seattle on Dec. 31.
"You can't let them get going and make shots," Oregon guard Garrett Sim said. "Especially at their place."
Washington (23-10) historically has been prolific on offense and this season averages 75.4 points.
However, Oregon (24-9) has recently steamrollered opponents with a multifaceted attack. The Ducks tallied a season-high 108 points in a win over Iowa on Sunday, with five players scoring at least 15 points.
"We're a team that can score a lot," said senior guard Devoe Joseph, who leads Oregon with a 16.9 scoring average. "So if we hold a team to under 60 to 70 points, we're going to win 99 percent of the time."
Junior guard E.J. Singler averages 13.4 points and Sim averages 12.3 for the Ducks, who are averaging 97 points in their past four wins.
"They have multiple guys that can score," UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Whenever you have three to four guys that can put the ball in the basket like that, usually it's a hard team to guard.
"They're really good in transition. They kick it up ahead and any one of those guys can knock shots down or put it on the floor and beat you to the basket."
Romar said Oregon is vastly improved since losing to the Huskies in Seattle.
"I don't think they had hit their stride yet," he said. "Not to take anything away from our victory, but they're a whole different team now than they were then."
Oregon is 8-2 in its past 10 games, with losses to NCAA tournament teams Colorado and California.
The Huskies are also playing well of late. They played one of their best defensive games of the season in holding Northwestern to 55 points and 35.3 percent shooting.
"What I would love to see is everyone have their normal game," Romar said of his team. "No one has to be Superman, but whatever you do bring that in this game. You don't need to play over your head."
Washington freshman guard Tony Wroten Jr. said the Huskies are motivated to finish their season in the NIT Final Four in New York.
"Everybody loves New York and to play in a historic arena like Madison Square Garden," he said. "We definitely want to get there."
• About 5,000 tickets had been sold for the game, UW officials said Monday. For ticket information, call 206-543-220 or visit GoHuskies.com.
• Wroten needs 14 points to pass Isaiah Thomas and move into first place on Washington's all-time freshman scoring list. Wroten is tops all-time among UW freshmen in assists and tied for fourth with Desmond Simmons in rebounds by a freshman. Wroten is five steals shy of the school's season record for steals, 67 by Bryant Boston.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @percyallen.