Although fans' memories of the Washington Huskies' loss to the Arizona Wildcats in Tuscon might be shaped by the fact that it came in the midst of a late-season downturn, it's hard to establish much separation between today's two title contenders based on that game alone.
And if we were to look strictly at head-to-head battles this season, one could even suggest that UW even has an edge: having beaten Arizona by 17 at home, they're at a +16 advantage in the season series.
But honestly, if we've learned anything about his Huskies team in the 2011 Pac-10 Tournament it's that how they show up today matters more than what they did in the past or even perhaps last game.
A lapse in defensive intensity, even for the amount of time that it happened in the second half against Oregon, could quite easily lead to a missed opportunity to end the season on a high note.
And all eyes should not only be on Arizona star Derrick Williams today, but also UW forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Mike Schmitz of SBN's Arizona Desert Swarm writes that "interior defense is public enemy No. 1" for Arizona and that it took double teams to rattle USC's post presence.
Arizona 67, USC 62 -- Moral victories - Arizona Desert Swarm
As for the Williams-Vucevic battle, Arizona's star wasn't extraordinary, but he edged his Pac-10 foe in the scoring department and finished with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Vucevic did, however, rack up his 21st double-double of the season while Williams gave up a handful of offensive rebounds -- Vucevic and Alex Stepheson combined for seven offensive boards.
Arizona threw constant double-teams at Vucevic and he struggled handling the pressure until late in the game. The Wildcats certainly didn't make a statement with a blowout victory, but they came up with the necessary plays to win the game.
If Bryan-Amaning can handle similar pressure inside - or better yet, demand it - Washington's chances will improve greatly.