UW Ready For Third Sweet 16 Trip In The Romar Era

March 22, 2010

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SEATTLE -- The No. 11 seed Washington men's basketball team (26-9, 11-7 Pac-10/3rd) will face the No. 2 seed West Virginia Moutaineers (29-6, 13-5 Big East/2nd) in Syracuse, N.Y. on Thursday, March 25 at 4:27 p.m. (PT) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament at the Carrier Dome. The winner will advance to the Elite Eight of the East bracket and face either No. 1 seed Kentucky or No. 12 Cornell. Washington has won nine-straight games, while West Virginia has ran off eight-consecutive victories.Sixth-ranked West Virginia is just the fourth ranked foe UW has faced this season (2-1 record).

The Huskies are 17-15 all-time in the NCAA Tournament (7-4 under Lorenzo Romar) and are making their third Sweet 16 trip under Romar's direction. The Huskies made their first-ever back-to-back Round of 16 appearances in 2005 & 2006 and are making their 5th regional semifinal appearance under the current tournament format (1984 & 1998) and are 0-4 all-time.

Live Game Coverage
Every game of the NCAA Tournament will be televised live by CBS. Broadcasting legend Dick Enberg will call play-by-play and Jay Bilas will provide color analysis. In addition, every Husky game is broadcast live on the radio throughout the Pacific Northwest via the Washington ISP Sports Network with Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton behind the microphone. The Seattle-based flagship station for the network is KJR 950 AM. The radio broadcast and a statistical GameTracker will also be available live on the internet via GoHuskies.com. Tournament games are also carried live throughout a network of radio stations and satellite outlets through Westwood One and will be shown live on the internet via CBSSports.com.

Washington In Syracuse
The Husky basketball team has never played at the Carrier Dome, but it is not the first time UW fans have highly anticipated a trip to central New York. In 2007, the UW football team started its season against the Orangemen and that game marked the highly anticipated debut of quarterback Jake Locker. The 2010 Heisman hopeful did not disappoint that day, scoring two touchdowns and leading the UW to a 42-12 win. Husky nation can only hope their upcoming trip is as successful.

How Washington Got Here
Washington, the No. 11 seed for the East Region, proved to be a tough out for No. 6 Marquette and No. 3 New Mexico. The Huskies made their opening statement against Marquette by rallying from a 15-point second half deficit to win 80-78 on a bank-shot by Quincy Pondexter with 1.7 seconds. Two days later the Huskies raced past the Lobos, leading by as much as 23 points, and ultimately won by 18 points -- 82-64.

Some argue if the Huskies had not won the Pac-10 Tournament, they might have not even gained entrance into the Big Dance, but Washington was able to capture its second-ever championship and gain the conference's automatic bid. It wasn't an easy road for the Huskies as they almost didn't make it out of the quarterfinals against Oregon Stater. UW had to rally from a nine point halftime deficit and trailed by 12 with 16:49 remaining before a 23-4 run put the Dawgs in control and on their way to a 59-52 win. The next night UW and Stanford struggled from the floor, but the Huskies wereable to run away in the second half with 51 points and a 79-64 win. Pondexter had 19 and Thomas 17 to lead the way to the 79-64 win.

In Saturday's final against Cal, the lead changed hands 22 times but ultimately Washington was able to escape with the 79-75 win. Pondexter scored 18 and Thomas 16, and the UW role players all had a hand in helping UW to its first conference trounament title since 2005. Thomas was named the Most Outstanding Player and Pondexter earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.

Quick Notes
• Washington is playing its team record tying 36th game this season, also done in 1938.
• Quincy Pondexter (688) and Isaiah Thomas (580) need 20 points combined to become the highest single-season scoring duo in team history.
• Matthew Bryan-Amaning is one block shy of becoming the third Husky with 100 in a career.
• The only other time UW was a No. 11 seed they defeated Xavier and Richmond before losing to Connecticut in the 1998 Sweet 16.
• Lorenzo Romar has tied Hec Edmundson for most 25-win seasons (4) by a coach. The 26 wins this season equals the 4th most in UW history.
• Pondexter has played in a UW record 135 career games.
• Thomas' has 1,121 career points, the most ever by a UW player in their first two seasons.
• Venoy Overton (139) needs one steal to tie Nate Robinson for 4th most in UW history.
• Pondexter's 688 pts are the 3rd-most in a season by a UW player. He needs 27 pts. to move past Jon Brockman (1,805) for 2nd most career points.
• Pondexter earned a Pac-10 record five Player of the Week honors during the season.
• Thomas and Pondexter were named first team All-Pac-10, while Venoy Overton and Justin Holiday were on the All-Pac-10 Defensive team.

UW and WVU Connections
The two teams have only met once before, playing each other at Portland's Memorial Coliseum in the Far West Classic on Dec. 26, 1973. Washington won that matchup 96-79.

Coach Bob Huggins has twice faced Washington as the head coach at Cincinnati, winning 88-72 at home in 1994 and 82-69 at Hec Edmundson in 1997.

Lorenzo Romar and Huggins are no strangers, having faced off seven times in Conference USA action while Romar was at St. Louis and Huggins at Cincy. Romar is only 2-5 all-time against Huggins, but holds the distinction of beating No. 1-ranked Cincinnati in the Conference USA Tournament to clinch an NCAA berth in 2000, despite a 7th place regular season finish. Romar has never faced WVU as a coach.

Quincy Pondexter and Da'Sean Butler were teammates on Team USA during the World University Games this past summer.

The teams share four common opponents from their schedule: Texas A&M, Portland, Marquette and Georgetown. The Mountaineers were 5-0 against those teams (beat the GU twice), while UW was 3-1.

Huskies Against The Big East
Washington snapped a 10 game losing streak against the Big East by beating Marquette 80-78 in the NCAA First Round. Prior to last Thursday, Washington's last win over the conference was against DePaul on Dec. 6, 1989. Overall, Washington is 10-18 all-time against the Big East, including a 74-66 loss to Georgetown in the John Wooden Classic on Dec. 12 in Anaheim. Ominously, three of the UW's last six NCAA Tournament appearance runs have been ended by Big East teams: 1998 vs. UConn (L, 75-74), 2005 vs. Louisville (L, 93-78) and 2006 vs. UConn (L, 98-82).

Late Season Streak
Washington enters the Sweet 16 riding a nine-game win streak and have won 14 of 16 overall. A big reason for their success has been the sudden ability to win away from Bank of America Arena. UW started the season 0-6 on the road and 0-1 at neutral sites, but has since went 4-0 on the road and 5-0 at the LA Staples Center and San Jose's HP Pavilion in the post-season. During their nine-game streak they are outscoring their opposition by 12 points and shooting 50% from the field (45.5% overall during the season).

The team has also been very balanced during the turnaround. In the last 16 games, eight players have averaged at least 12 minutes per game. Matthew Bryan-Amaning has especially stepped up his game as he is averaging 11.3 ppg and 6.8 rpg - both about markedly better than his overall averages.

A Quick Look At West Virginia
West Virginia has one of the most formidable front courts in the nation and likes to use it's size to its advantage. Four of the team's top five scores all stand 6-7 or taller, while only three of Washington's regular contributors stand that tall. Da'Sean Butler leads the Mountaineers attack, averaging 17.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg and 3.3 apg. Six-foot-eight Kevin Jones 13.6 ppg and hauls in 7.2 rpg, while Devin Ebanks adds 12 points and 8.3 boards a game.

Washington is averaging 79.9 points per game and West Virginia has only allowed that many points three times this season and are 1-2 in those contests. They are giving up 63.3 points per game to the opposition, a number which Washington has been held under only six times this season (3-3 record).

UW In The NCAA Tournament
Washington is making its 16th NCAA Tournament appearance and owns 17-15 record since the first event in 1943. The Huskies are 7-4 in tournament games under Lorenzo Romar: 0-1 in 2004; 2-1 in 2005; 2-1 in 2006; 1-1 in 2009 and 2-0 in 2010.

The Huskies were the No. 4 seed in 2009 and beat Mississippi State 71-58 in the first round before dropping to Purdue 76-74 in the second round.

UW was previously a No. 11 seed in 1998 and pulled off a first round upset of Xavier, second round win over Richmond before losing by a buzzer beater from Connecticut in the Sweet 16.

Off the Charts I-Q
Isaiah Thomas (580) and Quincy Pondexter (688) have combined to score 1,268 points this season, the second most ever by UW teammates in a year. If the duo can combine for 20 more points, they will pass Chris Welp (729) and Phil Zevenbergen (558), who combined for 1,287 points in 1987. Pondexter single season total is the third highest in UW history, while Thomas' total ranks as the seventh most points. Pondexter's average of 19.7 ppg is the 12th highest single-season average.

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