Washington-Oregon Preview

Oregon has maintained its slipping grasp on first place in the Pac-12 thanks to its continued dominance at home.

Washington, meanwhile, is having a once-promising season spiral out of control.

With their conference title hopes all but dashed, the Huskies try to save their fading NCAA Tournament chances in Sunday night's challenging road test against the 13th-ranked Ducks.

Oregon (22-6, 11-4) owned a seemingly comfortable three-game lead on No. 22 Utah in the Pac-12 race following a 76-66 win over the Utes on Feb. 7, but ensuing road losses to California and Stanford provided an opening that the charging Utes have seized with six straight wins to move to 12-5 in league play.

The Ducks have since regrouped with back-to-back victories over Oregon State and Washington State at Matthew Knight Arena, where they've won a school-record 24 straight after topping the last-place Cougars 76-62 on Wednesday.

With California and Arizona also within striking distance, Oregon – which swept the season series with Utah – still has some work to do to earn its first regular-season conference championship since 2001-02. After facing the slumping Huskies, the Ducks play their final two on the road against UCLA and USC.

“We still have Utah right there, Arizona right there, Cal right there. It's going to be a tight race,” coach Dana Altman said. “We have a really tough game on Sunday.”

Washington (16-12, 8-8) had been in the thick of the race with a 7-3 start but has since unraveled by losing five of six. The last three defeats have come by three points or fewer, including Thursday's heartbreaker at Oregon State in which Steven Thompson's contested 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted the Beavers to an 82-81 win.

Though Thompson appeared to travel on the deciding shot, drawing Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar a reprimand from the Pac-12 for questioning the non-call, the Huskies still had their chances in a must-win game where they shot a season-high 56.6 percent and held a 79-73 lead with 1:48 remaining.

''We did a lot of things that would allow you to win a ball game, but we don't have anything to show for it,'' Romar said.

Andrew Andrews had 30 points, though the Pac-12's leading scorer missed a critical free throw with 3.3 seconds left and had a turnover in the final minute.

The Huskies figure to face additional adversity in a trip to Eugene, where they've lost five straight and the Ducks have won 15 consecutive Pac-12 games. Washington, currently on a four-game road skid, lost 78-74 at Oregon last season and haven't won there since March 4, 2010.

Ducks guard Dillon Brooks is averaging 20.2 points in the last nine games, and now he faces a Washington team which allows a conference-worst 84.1 per game.

This up-tempo matchup features teams that each excel at causing turnovers, with the Huskies among the Division I leaders with 16.7 takeaways per game and Oregon second in the conference at 14.4.

Oregon has been considerably better at taking care of the ball, averaging a league-low 10.3 turnovers in conference play and 8.7 over its last six. Washington's 14.4 giveaways per game are the most in the Pac-12.

The Ducks have struggled to defend the 3-pointer, though, with conference opponents shooting 39.5 percent against them. Washington went 11 for 24 from beyond the arc against Oregon State, with Andrews finishing 6 for 9.

“Washington has a number of good shooters, so we are going to have a tough matchup, and our defense against the 3 really has got to improve,” Altman said.