Washington basketball is the team to beat right now in the Pac-12. The Huskies are not only undefeated at 8-0 in league play, but they have played complete basketball, and are very tough to beat.
Washington basketball led the whole game on Wednesday against USC. They are showing the tough non-conference schedule they played was a benefit to them, as they’ve grown and matured this season.
During the non-conference schedule, they were accustomed to starting off slowly but coming back with good second halves, including in the loss to then number one Gonzaga in their house.
For the Huskies to continue their success, they need to stop having cold stretches where they can’t score for five minutes at a time. The game on Wednesday against USC their turnovers came by passing it around too much. They’re at their best when their defense forces turnovers, but they are too aggressive at times and can’t convert the turnovers into points.
The game against the USC was effective early because they got the ball to Noah Dickerson inside, and he shot 7/10 from the field. Also, he converted 7/10 at the free throw line.
Jaylen Nowell continues to be the Huskies’ leading scorer, averaging 16.7 points per game. Against USC, he had only 12 points, but he added 5 assists, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals. Besides Nowell and Dickerson, the Huskies got their best offensive game out of Matisse Thybulle, who dropped 17 points with 5 rebounds. Thybulle, the 2018 Pac-12 defensive player of the year is playing like he wants to repeat. He added to his resume 7 steals and 2 blocked shots against the Trojans.
Since Pac-12 play started, senior guard David Crisp has scored in double figures in every fame. Against the Trojans, he had 15 points on just 5/14 shooting. In the previous three games against Cal, Oregon, and Oregon State, he had gone 16/30 from the floor. Crisp is also currently leading the conference in three-point shooting percentage.
Washington is also getting great effort off the bench from Nahziah Carter and Dominic Green. Carter has scored in double figures in three of the eight conference games so far, and Green has twice. Even when they aren’t scoring in double figures they bring energy and great defense off the bench.
The Bruins have gone through some turmoil this season, firing head coach Steve Alford shortly before Pac-12 play begun. They named assistant coach Murry Barlow as interim head coach. The Bruins had lost the last three games in non-league play before beating Washington State.
The UCLA Bruins opened the Pac-12 conference play winning their first three games over Stanford, Cal, and Oregon.
They lost to Arizona State, but beat Arizona at Pauley Pavilion. On Saturday, they will have to play their best game of the season to win against the hottest team in the conference.
UCLA’s scoring leader is sophomore guard Kris Wilkes, who’s averaging 17.7 per game. He is shooting 45.4 from the field including 33.6% from behind the three-point line.
The Bruins have three other players scoring in double digits. Sophomore guard Jaylen Hands is averaging 11.9 points and 6.6 assists per game. Freshman center Moses Brown is averaging 11.3 points a game and he’s shooting at a 65% clip in the field. He’s also the Bruins’ leading rebounder, grabbing 8.9 a game.
The fourth and final player is junior guard Prince Ali is average 10.7 points per game. He is shooting 44.5% from the field including 36.6% from the three-point line.
Next week, Washington has to travel into a very tough environment at Arizona and Arizona State. The Huskies have won on the road so far at Utah, Colorado, Oregon, and Oregon State, so this team is already battled tested on the road. Will it continue?