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Pivotal Game at Pauley Pavillion

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Washington has a one game lead in the Pac 10 conference race with five games left to play. Arizona State, UCLA, California, and Arizona are right on their heels so the difference between first and fifth in this conference is only two games.

If the Huskies drop two in Los Angeles which is very possible they could be looking up at everyone else next week when the Arizona schools come to town rather than looking down on the rest of the conference.

Thursday is the Pac 10 game of the year in Pauley Pavillion against the UCLA Bruins who know how quickly you can go from the penthouse to the middle of the standings.

You can count on the Bruins to be playing their best against Washington in a battle for the conference crown. If Washington wins this one they are in the drivers seat the rest of the way. Lose it and they need to salvage the split against USC on Saturday to stay in the running.

The sixth place Trojans are a bubble team with a lot to play for since the NCAA will likely only take five Pac 10 teams this season. They can beat anyone on any given night in the Galen Center.

The key for Washington against UCLA is to control the boards and get to the free throw line. Once there they need to convert on those free throws. It is a good formula for home but sometimes it is harder to get the calls on the road.

Against USC they run up against a team that has some good presence in the middle. The Huskies need to make sure that they get the ball inside to Brockman to negate that.

Two pivotal games in Los Angeles this weekend as the Huskies try to win their first outright conference championship since 1953.

You can visit Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times here to go over his keys to tonights game.