While Pac-12 leading Oregon extended its longest winning streak in six seasons earlier this week, coach Dana Altman is hoping for a better effort from the opening tip.
Starting out strong could be crucial against a Washington team eager to prove itself Saturday night.Seeking a 20th consecutive home victory, the No. 16 Ducks try to stay undefeated in conference play as they face the slumping Huskies.Oregon (17-2, 6-0) has outscored opponents by an average of 11.5 points during its eight-game run, a stretch that includes victories over then-No. 4 Arizona and then-No. 24 UCLA.Four days after beating the Bruins, though, the Ducks got all they could handle from Washington State in Wednesday's 68-61 win. Seniors E.J. Singler and Arsalan Kazemi combined for 35 points for Oregon, which entered the break down by 10 before picking up the pace in the second half."We bounced back and found a way," Altman said. "But you maybe get one of those a year, or two of those a year where you're really outplayed in the first half. You get those double-digit deficits and if you think you're going to come back from those every single game, you're making a mistake."While their latest performance wasn't up to par, the Ducks are 6-0 in league play for the first time since winning all 10 Pacific Coast Conference games in 1925-26. Oregon's winning streak is its longest since a nine-game run Feb. 22-March 23, 2007."This is the first time that we have been in this position," Singler said. "This is the first time that we are the hunted instead of the hunters."The Ducks, whose home winning streak is tied for the sixth-longest active run in Division I, now turn their attention to Washington (12-7, 4-2), which has taken 14 of 20 in this series. The Huskies won two of three last season, but the loss was an 82-57 rout at Matthew Knight Arena.After winning their first four conference games, the Huskies suddenly find themselves trying to avoid a season-worst third straight defeat. Washington fell 74-65 to last-place Utah last Saturday, then suffered a 74-66 defeat at Oregon State on Wednesday.Star guard C.J. Wilcox scored 23 points against the Beavers, who entered that game 0-5 in league play."Man, we are trying to figure it out," Wilcox, averaging 19.3 points to rank second in the conference, told the Huskies' official website. "If we can get this done at Oregon it can shoot us in the right direction. If not, who knows what will happen."Getting to the line has made a world of difference for Washington, which is 10-1 when attempting at least 19 free throws and just 2-6 when failing to reach that mark. The Huskies went a combined 13 for 24 (54.2 percent) from the foul line in their last two games."If we don't play with energy we're not very good," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "It's a matter of being determined to do the right thing. It's a matter of doing what we've already done before, playing the right way."We're 4-2 (in conference play) and about to play the team that's playing the best right now. We're getting ready to find out where we're at."The Huskies, who've dropped eight of nine against Top 25 opponents, fell 77-66 to then-No. 4 Ohio State on Nov. 18 in their only such matchup this season.