An off-season removed from losing Markelle Fultz to the the NBA Draft and Michael Porter Jr. flipping his commitment to Missouri, the Washington Huskies (15-6, 5-3), have surprisingly held their own in the Pac-12 thus far this season. On Thursday, they host the Arizona State Sun Devils (16-5, 4-5) for their only head-to-head matchup of the season.
Here are five things to know before the game:
Inconsistent in conference play
Despite having a winning record in the Pac-12, the Huskies have yet to win more than two games in a row against conference opponents. Most recently, they are coming off a road win against Colorado and home win over in-state rival, Washington State. Therefore, if the trend continues, the Sun Devils will come out on top.
Last week, Washington shot 53.6% from the field in the 18-point victory over the Cougars. That marked the eighth time this season in which the Huskies made over half their shots from the field.
Junior guard Matisse Thybulle, who recorded back-to-back 18 point games, is also shooting 58.3 percent from the field while grabbing 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and committing just one turnover over the last two games. Freshman Jaylen Nowell has had seven games with at least 20 points this year, while leading the team in scoring 10 times. Nowell has scored at least 10 points in 14-straight games and in 20 of his 21 career games. Overall, in the 15 wins Washington has this year, it’s shooting a combined 50.5% as a team.
Strong perimeter defense
Since the beginning of conference play, Washington has held its opponents to a lower three-point percentage than its season average. To be more specific, its holding opponents to an average of 3.4 less threes per game. Arizona State likes to shoot the long ball, so it will be interesting to see if the Huskies can limit it too.
In three of the last 10 games, including last week against Washington State, the Huskies recorded 20 or more assists in the game. In the game against the Cougars, Washington assisted on two-thirds of the team’s baskets, led by Thybulle and David Crisp, who are both averaging over three assists per game in conference play.
The Huskies may not get out to the best start, but they can certainly finish the game strong. In three games this season, Washington has comeback from double-digit deficits to come out on top. In addition, they’ve trailed by at least five points in seven of their 15 wins this year.
The Sun Devils and Huskies tip off at 9:00 p.m. MST at the Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle.