With four weeks and seven games remaining in the Pac-12 regular season, time is running out on Washington.
The Huskies (13-11, 5-6 in conference) are locked in a three-way tie with Utah and Oregon State for seventh in the Pac-12 men’s basketball standings, and they’ve lost three straight games.
Any chance to earn a NCAA tournament at-large berth will probably require them to finish with a 7-0 or 6-1 run. And even that might not be enough.
“I think our guys are aware that we have to play our best basketball right now,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Down the stretch, we need to play at a high level. I would say if we play our best basketball, things will take care of itself.
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“I think that’s how we have to look at it as opposed to if we don’t do this or we don’t do that, it’s doomsday.”
In his 12th season with the Huskies, Romar often says two weeks in the Pac-12 can feel like a lifetime.
“A whole lot can change in that time,” he said Monday on his weekly radio show. “You can go from the top to the bottom and vice versa just that quickly.”
Two weeks ago, Washington was tied for third in the conference, and it wasn’t difficult to imagine the Huskies ending their two-year NCAA tournament drought.
Even Romar got caught up in the excitement and encouraged the Huskies, who had been 5-3 in the league, to dream about the Big Dance and track their progress in the Pac-12 standings. He said a top-four finish should guarantee an at-large NCAA tourney berth.
“The only reason I brought up the standings before was to point to our team how far we have come,” he said. “To make sure we understood how far we’ve come, and hopefully that would bring some motivation to hold on to what we’ve done.
“We’ve worked so hard to get here, let’s work hard to hold on to it. But now we’re back in a hole.”
The Huskies aren’t talking about the NCAA tournament anymore, and they’re eager to move past Sunday’s 91-65 shellacking at Colorado. The 26-point defeat was their worst loss of the season.
“We’re looking forward to our next game,” junior forward Desmond Simmons said. “It’s that simple. We’re ready to get back out on the court.”
The next game is 6 p.m. Wednesday against Stanford (15-7, 6-4) at Alaska Airlines Arena.
In their first meeting, Washington had no answer for junior guard Chasson Randle, who scored a career-tying 33 in a 79-67 Husky loss at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 18.
The Huskies also had tremendous difficulty containing Stanford’s big front line. Dwight Powell, a 6-foot-10 senior forward, finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and 6-7 senior forward Josh Huestis had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“They have versatile size,” Romar said. “Guys can play multiple spots, and their length can affect you on the defensive end. They’re a tough matchup.”
Given the circumstances, a loss would just about eliminate any chance Washington would have at earning an NCAA tournament at-large berth.
“I don’t feel like we’re in desperation mode,” Simmons said. “I feel like we’re definitely looking to the next game. We’re not looking ahead to anybody. We know we have seven games left, but we’re just looking forward to Stanford.”
Sophomore guard Andrew Andrews expects the Huskies to play better down the stretch, partly because five of their remaining seven games are at Alaska Airlines Arena, where they are 4-0 in Pac-12 games and 11-2 overall.
Washington is 1-6 in conference road games.
“With our crowd there cheering us on, it helps to get the other team rattled,” Andrews said. “I feel like that’s what happens to us when we’re on the road. We kind of get rattled a bit when their fans get into the game.”
• C.J. Wilcox needs 18 points to pass Bob Houbregs (1,774) and move into fourth place in Washington career scoring.
Road to nowhere
|The Huskies’ past three games, all away from home:|
|2/1||WSU, 72-67||Cougs’ 22-5 run erases 8-point Husky lead|
|2/6||Utah, 78-69||Utes snap 51-all tie with 11-0 scoring run|
|2/9||Colorado, 91-65||Huskies fall down 20-4, can’t get back up|
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278
On Twitter @percyallen