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Guard Play Key To UW's Conference Success

As the Huskies enter conference play starting Friday against Cal, guard play will be key if the Huskies want to improve on the offensive end.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Through 12 games I think we can claim that the Huskies are an average to slightly below average offensive team. The Huskies are averaging 70.8 points per game, but have been plagued by long stretches of poor shooting multiple times.

And with conference play beginning on Friday against Cal, avoiding poor shooting stretches and scoring consistently will be even more important if the Huskies want to be successful in Pac-12 play and end a three year tournament draught, and no group of players may be more important to that  success than the guards.

Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews lead the team in scoring at 13.6 and 12 points per game respectively, but over the last three games the duo has failed to get much going. During those three games, the Huskies have scored less than 70 points, including 62-57 loss to Stony Brook.

Williams-Goss has scored in double figures the past two games but has done so on a mediocre 10-for-25 shooting. Add in the Oklahoma game and he is 13 for his last 33 from the field, including one for his last five from downtown. His rebounds (14) and assists (18) have still been there, but the scoring has been lacking, especially in key moments.

Andrews has been even worse. Over the last three games he has made 7-of-30 field goals and 2-of-11 3-pointers. No matter how much he shoots I think Romar, and Husky fans, need to live with it because of his potential to be a big time scorer, but it's frustrating to see him in such a cold stretch.

Mike Anderson has shown the best out of the starting guards, but has done so on not many shot attempts. He is shooting 56% (9-16) during the last three games but still seems to be hesitant when he has an open 3-point shot, even though he is shooting 41% from downtown this season.

As a team the Huskies are shooting 32.3% from downtown and opposing defenses aren't afraid to double down on Robert Upshaw and Shawn Kemp Jr. and give up an open 3-pointer. Romar has tried to get some 3-point shooting from the bench, rotating Darin Johnson, Donaven Dorsey and Quevyn Winters at the wing, but neither has proved to be a consistent threat.

If the UW's guards are able to find their touch on the offensive end, the post play will improve with it and the Huskies will hopefully be able to avoid the long droughts that became common during the nonconference season. Both of the Golden Bears' leading scorers are guards so the backcourt will have to be sharp on both ends.

What will be the key for the Huskies during the Bay Area trip? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and don't forget to follow Erik on Twitter. Go Dawgs and Happy New Year!