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March 19, 2012Back in early February when Washington suffered its worst loss of the season against the Oregon Ducks in Eugene, it appeared the Huskies would have to wait until next season to get their revenge.
Oregon's win over Iowa on Sunday set up an NIT quarterfinal meeting with Washington at Hec Edmundson Pavilion Tuesday night. The Huskies no longer have to wait to get their opportunity at payback.
Ah, the power of the NIT.
Game 3 between the Huskies and Ducks, which takes place at 6 p.m., will be the rubber match, as Washington easily handled Oregon by 16 points back on New Year's Eve. But don't assume just because UW is back at home that things will be that easy this time around.
"(Oregon) is a whole different team now than they were then," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar.
In the Ducks' past 10 games, they are 8-2 and have scored an average of 83.5 points per game. They have been lighting up the scoreboard, and with the exception of Colorado, no one has slowed them down, not even the Huskies.
Oregon is led by Devoe Joseph, E.J. Singler, and Garrett Sim, who all have the ability to score 20 points on any given night. But they've recently been getting elite production out of big man Olu Ashaolu as well as Carlos Emory.
Stopping five good offensive options is going to be a tall task for the Huskies, so they might just be forced to keep up on their own offensive end and turn this into a high-scoring affair.
But that won't be easy, either.
"Oregon did a good job of forcing Iowa to shoot quickly," Romar said. "Iowa was trying to get up and down too, but Oregon just got in a really good rhythm. It seems like they've been in that rhythm for about two or three weeks."
But while Oregon has momentum and recent hot play on its side, Washington has the home-crowd atmosphere that makes the Huskies so much better.
"I expect it to be a very good atmosphere," Romar said. "Like a big-time conference gamev- although this is more of a tournament game - but I would expect it will be pretty loud."
The Huskies will also have C.J. Wilcox, who Romar said will be at the best health he's been at since his hip injury.
Wilcox scored 24 points against Oregon during Washington's win, but only played 23 minutes and was at far less than full strength during the 82-57 loss, according to Romar.
Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross are the stars, but Wilcox's presence could be the key for Washington advancing to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York.