SEATTLE -- What are the Buffs about to walk into here?
Colorado seeks its first Pac-12 road victory of the season tonight at Washington.
Since Hec Edmundson Pavilion (now called Alaska Airlines Arena) underwent a $40 million renovation completed in November of 2000, the Huskies have enjoyed one of the best home-court advantages in the country.
Washington has won 921 games in the historic venue, which was originally completed in 1927, with head coach Lorenzo Romar winning 85 percent of his home games over the previous 10 seasons.
But the Huskies are only 6-3 at home so far this season with losses to Albany (63-62), Colorado State (73-55) and Nevada (76-73).
Washington has averaged 7,466 in attendance at the 10,000-seat American Airlines Arena through nine games.
"In years past we've had pretty good environments for our games. Our crowd is pretty good," Romar said on Tuesday's Pac-12 coaches teleconference with the media. "This year we haven't had the big crowds yet."
That figures to change given the fact that the Huskies (11-5, 3-0) have started conference play with road victories at Washington State, Cal and Stanford.
Washington junior guard C.J. Wilcox is the conference player of the week after averaging 23.0 points and 8.5 rebounds during the Bay Area sweep.
Are the Huskies, last season's regular-season conference champions, contenders again?
"They're not bad. They got three road breakthroughs, but it remains to be seen if those road breakthroughs are against the better teams," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "I don't know that they're a top-three team, but they got three road breakthroughs. That's pretty good."
The Buffs (11-5, 1-3) are 1-4 in true road games this season.
CU, which did not make the trip to Seattle or Pullman last season, could get back into the mix quickly with wins over Washington and Washington State this week.
"Washington to me is leading the league," said UCLA head coach Ben Howland, whose team improved to 4-0 in the Pac-12 with last Saturday's win in Boulder. "They have three wins and they're all on the road."
CU and Utah have different philosophies on how to travel for this week's Wednesday-Saturday schedule in the Great Northwest.
On Tuesday afternoon the Buffs made their way to Seattle, where they will face the Huskies late Wednesday (9:30 p.m. Mountain tip) on the Pac-12 Network.
Following the game, CU will fly to Spokane in the wee hours and will have two days to recover and prepare for Saturday's 8 p.m. tip in Pullman against Washington State.
"Our semester is just starting. We will be bringing an academic counselor and will stay on road," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "The 8:30 p.m. (Pacific) tip off was deal-breaker there."
Boyle noted that with a two and a half hour flight home and losing an hour, the Buffs wouldn't have gotten home until 3 or 4 a.m. on Thursday.
"We're going to stay on the road and get some home work and study hall done and try to stay fresh," Boyle said.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak will fly his team back to Salt Lake City after their Wednesday game at Washington State. The Utes will then fly to Seattle on Friday night ahead of their 9 p.m. Mountain start on Saturday at Washington.
"I'm not in a position to complain about it," Krystkowiak said of the schedule, which is no longer the traditional Thursday-Saturday format due to the Pac-12 Network's need for programming. "We're all going to squeeze 18 (conference games) in at some point. You've just got to deal with it."
Long first day
Bob Cantu received a call Monday morning from USC athletic director Pat Haden, who informed the longtime assistant that Kevin O'Neill had been fired and he was the first choice to be interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
"Getting through yesterday was a big day just in handling the team and handling the media," Cantu said Tuesday. "And handling everything emotionally."
Now the Cantu-led Trojans (7-10, 2-2), who won at Utah in what turned out to be O'Neill's final game on the bench after a 66-60 loss at CU, will try to turn the page with a big home game against No. 21 Oregon on Thursday.
"I just got done watching Colorado and Utah. I thought (USC) played pretty darn good," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "If they do get that (emotional) bump, then we're in trouble."
Three in AP poll
I voted for three Pac-12 teams -- Arizona (7), UCLA (22) and Oregon (23) -- in the Associated Press poll this week. The Wildcats were No. 7, the Ducks No. 21, and the Bruins No. 24.
"The more teams that get ranked the better it is for the Pac-12 overall," Howland said. "Our conference is much better than it was."
Saturday's matchup between Oregon and UCLA at Pauley Pavilion will be the first Pac-12 game between two AP top 25 teams since March 13, 2009 (No. 23 Arizona State defeated No. 13 Washington, 75-65 in the Pac-10 Tournament).
The rest of my ballot: 1. Duke, 2. Louisville, 3. Indiana, 4. Michigan, 5. Kansas, 6. Syracuse, 8. Florida, 9. Gonzaga, 10. Minnesota, 11. Creighton, 12. Butler, 13. North Carolina State, 14. San Diego State, 15. Ohio State, 16. Michigan State, 17. New Mexico, 18. Kansas State, 19. Notre Dame, 20. Missouri, 21. VCU, 24. Marquette and 25. Boise State.
Despite losing its first game of the season at Oregon last week, Arizona moved up from No. 4 to No. 2 in the NCAA's official RPI ranking.
CU fell from No. 6 to No. 17 after splitting at home against USC and UCLA.
Oregon moved up from No. 48 to 26 after sweeping the Arizona schools while UCLA edged up from No. 39 to No. 34 after winning its ninth consecutive game in Boulder.
Washington jumped up from No. 73 to No. 58 following road wins at Cal (70) and Stanford (74).
Two Pac-12 point guards, Arizona's Mark Lyons (14.6 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Arizona State's Jahii Carson (17.1 ppg, 5.2 apg), are among the 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award.
CU's Spencer Dinwiddie (14.4 ppg, 2.7 apg) was on the original list of 50 nominees.
"Don't give up on this season. We feel like there's a lot of basketball to be played. We've played three of the top teams and are getting ready to play the fourth top team," Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson.
The Beavers are 0-3 in the Pac-12 with home losses to Oregon, Arizona State and Arizona. Oregon State plays at UCLA on Thursday.
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