Washington and Washington State Kickoff Pac-12 Conference Play on Saturday

John ZielonkaContributor IINovember 25, 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 08:  Head coach Lorenzo Romar of the Washington Huskies reacts in the first half while taking on the Oregon State Beavers during the quarterfinals of the 2012 Pacific Life Pac-12 basketball tournament at Staples Center on March 8, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The University of Washington (8-5) will head East to meet their long-time Washington State (9-4) rivals on Saturday evening. This will be the 275th encounter between the two Washington schools.

The Huskies return as the Pac-12 title holders. Despite their success last year, Washington was snubbed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

This year, both teams have records above the .500 mark after their non-conference matchups. Washington lost three home games to Albany, Colorado State and Nevada. Ohio State and Connecticut accounted for the remaining defeats.

The Cougars' losses were to Pepperdine in overtime, neutral court defeats to Kansas and Texas A&M and a two-point home loss to basketball powerhouse Gonzaga.

Husky senior guard Abdul Gaddy acknowledged that the matchup against the Cougars would be challenging.

"We have a real tough test coming up. We're all about getting better," Gaddy said. "We want to improve on our weaknesses."

Washington features three seniors and one junior in their starting rotation. Seniors Gaddy, center Aziz N'Diaye and guard Scott Suggs are the foundation for an experienced group to make another run at the Pac-12 title. Junior guard C.J. Wilcox leads the team in scoring with 18.5 points per game.

According to Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar, his veterans have the potential to replicate last year's successes.

"I just think we're better than we were early in a lot of those (non-conference) games," Romar said. "Our record doesn't reflect that, but we've seen improvements that we've made."

As for the Cougars, Romar identified senior forward Brock Motum as "the most versatile player in our league" during his Thursday afternoon press conference.

The veteran coach spoke about the 6'10", 245-pound Australian's effectiveness. "He plays on the perimeter. He shoots it from the perimeter. He drives it from the perimeter. He can post you up. He can pass. He can make free throws at 6'9" or 6'10". That's a tough cover anywhere...He's a guard and a 'big' all-in-one."

The Saturday matchup will be seen nationally on ESPNU at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Sources: University of Washington Athletic Communication and personal interviews