Huskies Finish Off Eastern, Turn Their Attention To Zags
The Washington basketball team is done with the preliminaries. With a 90-80 victory over Eastern Washington at home on Wednesday night, the Huskies can shift their full attention to the game that matters most on the preseason schedule.
Sunday afternoon at Alaska Airlines Arena. ESPN2 TV. A matchup the UW badly wants to win but remains elusive.
"It's a great challenge, a great program," Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said. "These are the fun games."
Well not exactly. The UW has beaten the Zags just once in the past 22 years, in 13 games held over that time. They nearly upset them in Spokane a year ago. They have a new team that hasn't felt the pain of repeated beatings.
To get to this point, the Huskies (7-1) showed something different against Eastern, bringing Kentucky transfer Quade Green off the bench and turning him loose for a team-high 20 points and 8 assists.
It was the second consecutive game in which Hopkins has tinkered with his lineup, replacing guard Hameir Wright with Jamal Bey against South Dakota, and replacing Green with Wright against Eastern (4-3).
"Coach Hopkins wanted to see what our big 2-3 (zone) looked like," Green said, adding he wasn't bothered by not starting. One had to wonder if defense was the actual reason.
The Huskies and Eastern were tied at 33 before the hosts outscored the Big Sky preseason favorites 14-2 over the final five minutes of the first half. The Eagles' Kim Aiken Jr. led all scorers with 26 points.
Green was more aggressive and highly efficient, leading the UW in scoring for the first time this season. He sank 5 of 10 shots, 2 of 5 from 3-point range, connected on 8 of 9 free throws and collected a pair of steals. He also drew a technical foul for something he said.
Six Huskies finished in double figures, including the team's only senior, 6-foot-11, 265-pound Sam Timmons, who had 11 points. He entertained the crowd and his teammates by attempting his first 3-pointers in three seasons, knocking down 1 of 2 from beyond the arc. Check out the boxscore here.
Against Eastern, the Huskies needed Green to step up more than ever. Freshmen big men Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart both fouled out. The sophomore point guard kept everyone together, something that will be sorely needed against the Zags.
Asked about Gonzaga and the state rivalry, he acknowledged the game is not unlike a Kentucky-Louisville matchup.
"We've got to be one of those historic teams to beat them," Green said. "I know they beat us last year. That's all I need to know."