After the Washington Huskies lost 71-60 Sunday night at USC, the stat everybody will cite all week is that the Huskies have lost six of their last seven after starting 4-0 in Pac-12 play. The narrative is easy: After a hot start, Washington has since nosedived and struggled badly. The reality is a bit more complex.
With the exception of the win at California, basically every conference game Washington has played has been in doubt during the final four minutes, meaning a couple of breaks here and there can make an enormous difference in terms of wins and losses.
Early in the season, the Huskies got those bounces at Washington State and Stanford. They easily could have lost one or both of those two. Lately, with the exception of the Arizona State game, they haven’t gotten the same breaks. Take away Larry Drew II‘s game-winning shot at the buzzer, and change one possession against Arizona, and Washington could easily be 3-4 in the last seven games.
Based on the typical relationship between point differential and record, the Huskies were really a 3-1 team during their first four games. They’ve really been slightly better than a 2-5 team during the last seven.
When you add the two segments of the season together, however, they fit. 5-6 is about where the Huskies should be at this point of the season, given they’ve been outscored by four points aggregate in their 11 conference games. On average, that should translate into a 6-5 record on occasion but most often a 5-6 record. So Washington is what its record says it is.