EUGENE, Ore. – To listen to Lorenzo Romar, the problems plaguing the Washington men’s basketball team have very little to do with a lack of talent or the misuse of personnel.
If it were that simple, the UW coach would tweak the lineup in search of the right combination to produce more wins.
No, the troubles are much more complex, which is why Romar has reached new levels of frustration during his 12th season with the Huskies.
“It’s a tough one,” he said. “We only have five games left in the conference now. … It’s been kind of hard.”
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Romar is an optimist by nature, and he rarely disciplines his team through the media. However, several times this season he’s publicly admonished the Huskies for lacking the mental toughness required during the course of a 40-minute game.
Far too often, Washington falls into what he described as “lapses when things don’t go right and we lose our focus.”
“We just haven’t been able to find a way yet since Arizona State and Arizona to just battle through that,” Romar said.
Washington won its Pac-12 opener 76-65 at Arizona State on Jan. 2 behind a brilliant display of first-half defense and clutch shot-making in the second half.
Since then, the Huskies have lost six straight on the road. This season, they’re 2-9 away from Alaska Airlines Arena.
“You’re going to face more adversity on the road then you’re going to face at home,” freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss said. “The way you handle that can really sway the outcome. There’s been times this year where we haven’t handled it as well as we should have. And that’s something that we’re going to look to do better in this next road trip.”
Washington (14-12, 6-7 Pac-12) will attempt to sweep the regular-season series against Oregon (16-8, 4-8) at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Matthew Knight Arena. The Huskies won the first meeting 80-76 on Jan. 23.
Washington also plays at Oregon State (13-11, 5-7) on Saturday at Gill Coliseum. If the Huskies don’t snap their road woes, then they’ll return home .500 in the win-loss column for the first time since Dec. 8.
“It’s definitely tough,” Williams-Goss said. “Losing is never easy. Never fun. … The only option is to come back with more focus, better energy and try to do better the next time.”
In its last road game, Washington fell behind by 16 points in the first six minutes and got clobbered 91-65 at Colorado on Feb. 9.
“With the exception of Colorado, we start off fine then we fade a little bit,” Romar said. “In the second half, we start off fine offensively but in the second half we haven’t really been getting stops. And then we completely fade.
“The ball is not going in the basket and we’re not getting stops. Those have been the common denominators in the road losses.”
During the road losing streak, Washington has allowed 78.3 points per game while averaging 64.3. Opponents are shooting 51.4 percent from the field while UW shoots 39.2.
“That comes down to being mentally tough,” sophomore guard Andrew Andrews said. “When we aren’t making shots, that doesn’t mean the other team should make shots.”
In the previous 11 seasons under Romar, Washington is 36-19 (.654) in the final five games of the season.
“This is not a team that we look at and we say, ‘We got no chance,’ ” Romar said. “That’s not this team. It’s a matter of us — and we’ve been saying this now for several games — banding together and just to a man concentrating on doing what we already know how to do.
“If we can do that I think this team can finish strong.”
• C.J. Wilcox needs five points to pass Quincy Pondexter (1,786 points) and move into third place on Washington’s all-time scoring list. Wilcox is 23 points away from second place (Jon Brockman, 1,805).
• Williams-Goss is sixth on UW’s all-time freshman scoring list with 346 points. Next up: Mark Sanford at 378. With at least six games remaining, Williams-Goss is on pace to finish fourth behind Tony Wroten Jr. (559), Isaiah Thomas (541) and Spencer Hawes (461). Williams-Goss is fifth on UW’s all-freshman assists list with 101.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @percyallen