Huskies' Freefall Continues as They Get Blown Out by Colorado

Mike Hopkins' struggling basketball team lost its sixth game in seven outings, offering little resistance.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

In Las Vegas, where losing isn't unusual, the University of Washington basketball team handed over its wallets, watches and cell phones to Colorado.

It left with nothing of value.

The Huskies made it a game for maybe two minutes, fell behind by as many as 26 points in the opening half on Sunday night and headed into the holiday break with a dispirited 92-69 defeat.

Nothing could prevent the UW from matching the program's worst start in 17 seasons once more (1-6). Bob Bender's first Husky team lost 15 of its first 17 games back then on the way to a 5-22 record.

This current team is so inept, it easily could sink to that level of despair.

Coach Mike Hopkins replaced two of his starters, going with Nate Pryor and RaeQuan Battle at tipoff time, but things got worse, not better.

For the first time, the losing appeared to outwardly get under the skin of some of the guys in the purple uniforms. 

Erik Stevenson, one of the Huskies removed from the opening lineup, got caught throwing a blatant elbow into the chest of Colorado's Dallas Walton before play restarted and got pulled.

Battle was whistled for a hard flagrant foul as the Buffaloes' Jeriah Horne went in for a layin and sat out the rest of the first half.

"The guys got frustrated," Hopkins said.

The only real threat in this one for the Huskies was the play of the 88-inch man Riley Sorn. Coming off the bench once more, the tallest player in the Pac-12 was as active as ever in 18 minutes, supplying 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting and grabbing 8 rebounds, all personal and team bests.

"I definitely wasn't expecting to have as big a role as I have right now," the 7-foot-4 sophomore center from Richland, Washington, said.

Sorn ran the floor for a fast-break dunk. He followed up misses by teammates with put-backs and even followed up on one of his misses. The Huskies should build around him.

"It's a tough position to be in," Sorn said. "All I want to do is win. I don't care if I had 10 points or zero points."

Pryor, the Idaho junior-college transfer who was making his second start, was respectable in his outing, providing a career-best 15 points, while little-used Marcus Tsohonis chipped in 14 points in a flurry at the end. 

Still, these guys weren't nearly enough to stave off embarrassment in a game that didn't count in the Pac-12 standings. 

Of the UW starters, Nate Roberts finished with 2 points and Hameir Wright and Battle went scoreless. 

"We were breaking down," Hopkins said. "It wasn't just one or two people, it was everybody."

This marked the Huskies' third trip into T-Mobile Arena, where they opened the season with an 86-52 loss to second-ranked Baylor and followed it up a few days later with a 57-42 setback to UC Riverside.

Obviously, Hopkins' crew hasn't figured things out in a month's time.

The Huskies never led. They tied the score once, at 2-2, on Pryor's driving lay-in. They didn't score again for nearly five minutes and this game effectively was decided. There were no more chips on the table.

A veteran and strong defensive Colorado team (5-1) just did whatever it wanted, At the 10-minute mark of the opening half, the Buffaloes led 25-7 when Maddox Daniels dropped in one of two free throws. They went up 43-17 and 47-21 before breaking for intermission.

In the second half, both sides substituted liberally and played out the mismatch. The Huskies used 11 players nonstop. They've now lost 21 of 27 games spanning two seasons.

The UW is off until New Year's Eve, when it hosts Arizona at Alaska Airlines Arena for a 5 p.m. tipoff.

"It doesn't seem like we're very cohesive right now," Sorn said. "In the next 10 or 11 days of practice hopefully we're going to come together as a team more."

As for Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena, the scene of three of their worst defeats, the Huskies sadly haven't seen the last of this place. They have to play here a fourth time for the Pac-12 tournament in March. 

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven

Find Husky Maven on Facebook by searching: HuskyMaven/Sports Illustrated

Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Husky Maven. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.