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Husky Men's Basketball Blog

Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies. E-mail Bob.

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December 31, 2006

At Pauley

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:49 PM

About an hour before tipoff and there are few people in the arean --- this is almost always a late-arriving crowd here and class obviously isn't in session.

But they are expecting their most rabid crowd of the year today, with a sellout of close to 12,000 apparently in the offing.

It's not lost on the fans, or the UCLA coaches and players, that UW has won the last three against the Bruins --- two in Seattle and one here last January. That was one of only two home losses for UCLA last year --- the other came the following week against West Virginia.

UCLA has won 12 in a row at Pauley since that WVU loss, including eight straight this season.

One of the key matchups today will be UW's Spencer Hawes against UCLA's Lorenzo Mata, generally regarded as one of the better defenders in the conference, if not much of a scorer.

UCLA coach Ben Howland said Saturday that Mata will get the first crack at guarding Hawes. An LA-based writer asked Howland if Mata could be expected to repeat his performance on Kentucky's Randolph Morris when he held him in check in UCLA's 73-68 win over the Wildcats at the Maui Invitational in November.

Howland downplayed the comparison, saying "we haven't played anyone (this season) as skilled as Spencer Hawes. He's as good as it gets.''

This will be the 29th time UW has faced a team rated No. 1 in the country. The Huskies are 2-26 in the previous 28 games, beating Stanford in 2004 and UCLA in 1979, both at home. UW is 0-10 on the road against teams ranked No. 1 in the country.