Cal basketball coach Mike Montgomery knows what awaits his Golden Bears on Thursday night in Seattle.

And it's not the Washington team that has lost its past three games, all on the road.

No, it's the team with the best home-court resume in the nation this season.

Not an easy assignment for the Golden Bears (13-10, 6-5 Pac-10) in their first game since losing 107-105 in triple-overtime to Arizona last Saturday.

Washington (15-7, 7-4) is 11-0 at home, winning by an average margin of 26.8 points -- best in the country. No visiting team has come closer to UW than 13 points at Alaska Airlines Arena.

So Montgomery isn't misled by the Huskies' recent woes -- road losses to Washington State, Oregon State and Oregon.

"People are so amazed when anybody loses on the road in this league. They just can't fathom it," Montgomery said. "It's been going on forever."

The Huskies, however, are a different beast at home.

"Washington is a momentum team and really feeds off that crowd," said Oregon State coach Craig Robinson, whose team lost 103-72 in Seattle last month. "Even when it's a close game, that crowd knows when to get behind their team and really provide a spark for them.

"My advice would be get the lead and keep the lead -- and I'm not trying to be facetious."

Washington sprinted to a 92-71 win over Cal last month in Berkeley. "They seem to play with a lot more confidence (at home)," Montgomery said. "I know they're a lot more aggressive. They're physical and seemingly get away with a little more at home."


Advertisement

The Huskies concede their issues extend beyond geography. UW has allowed nearly 79 points per game during its losing streak.

"In the past, when you hear Washington basketball, you think of defense first and it kind of scares teams," UW senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning said. "And now teams are looking forward to playing us."

"It helps that we're coming back playing at home," coach Lorenzo Romar said, "but we definitely have to play better."

Consensus Pac-10 favorites, the Huskies seemingly had control of the conference race after a 7-1 start. Now they're in third place, two games back of Arizona.

Romar said last weekend that the Huskies may not have time to win the conference title outright.

"All I can say is, we were 5-2 in 2006 and we lost three road games in row," he said. "Everyone else panicked, but we didn't, and we ended up finishing second in the Pac-10 and going to the Sweet 16."

The Bears know UW has that potential, especially if junior point guard Isaiah Thomas regains the form he showed them last month when he totaled 27 points and 13 assists at Haas Pavilion. Thomas had 16 turnovers and shot just 29 percent in the Huskies' three recent defeats.

Romar is just as worried about the Bears.

"Cal's offense is really efficient right now," he said. "The emergence of Allen Crabbe has really helped. Harper Kamp is a very underappreciated, workmanlike basketball player."

Thursday's game
Cal (13-10, 6-5 Pac-10) at Washington (15-7, 7-4), 6 p.m.
HUSKIES' HOME COOKIN'
College basketball teams with unbeaten home records, ranked by highest average margin of victory:
School W-L Margin
1. Washington 11-0 26.8 pts.
2. Duke 13-0 26.1
3. Ohio State 16-0 25.2
4. Saint Mary's 13-0 25.0
5. Kentucky 11-0 24.7
6. Missouri 14-0 23.8
7. San Diego St. 12-0 20.5
8. Wisconsin 13-0 20.4
9. Arizona 13-0 19.5
10. Purdue 13-0 19.0