As Washington looks to extend its first winning streak of the season to three games Sunday, the Huskies welcome a Washington State team on a six-game slide into Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle.
The Huskies (3-11, 2-7 Pac-12) dropped eight in a row before scoring a pair of four-point road victories at Colorado and Utah last week. Washington’s first two conference wins of the season came with its two highest-scoring games of the campaign.
What did Washington coach Mike Hopkins do differently in offensive preparation leading to the trip to the Rocky Mountains?
“Nothing exceptional,” he said. “We have a basic shooting routine we do every day where they get up between 4-and-500 shots. It’s not just shooting, it’s mechanical stuff.”
Washington had the hot hand from long range in both games, shooting a torrid 12-of-25 on 3-point attempts in Colorado and 12-of-24 in Utah to bolster its previously sluggish offense. The Huskies had previously made just 29.5 percent of their 3-point shots.
Washington State (9-7, 2-7 Pac-12), meantime, is the poorest-shooting team in the league, making just 41.3 percent of their field goals, which includes 34.2 percent from beyond the arc.
The Cougars, who started the season at 9-1, have scored more than 61 points just once during their current, six-game losing streak. Washington State mostly recently dropped a 70-58 decision at Colorado on Wednesday, which marked its third consecutive game failing to score at least 60.
Washington State dug a 15-point hole in the first half that Cougars coach Kyle Smith said in his postgame press conference was “too big a hurdle to climb.”
Smith noted positives from his team’s bench play in the loss, most notably T.J. Bamba’s 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
“Really proud of T.J., the way he’s ready to go,” Smith said. “He responded (to playing sparingly the previous game) — and not just because he scored — his focus was good.”
A freshman, Bamba is becoming a more prominent contributor on offense, which needs someone to step up. Isaac Bonton (18 points per game) and Noah Williams (12.8 ppg) are the only players scoring in double figures for the Cougars.
Guard Quade Green (15.4 ppg) is Washington’s sole double-figure-point-per-game scorer, although in the past two games, guard Jamal Bey (42 points) and Erik Stevensen (35) showed some consistency.
–Field Level Media