The University of Washington Huskies men’s basketball (15-6 overall, 5-3 Pac-12 conference) team won its second consecutive game after losing two consecutive games with the aide of young guns Mattise Thybulle and Jaylen Nowell. The Huskies swept the season series over cross state rivals Washington State (9-11, 1-7), with an 80-62 win Sunday night in front of a sell out crowd at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Junior forward Thybulle scored 18 points while freshman Nowell scored 14 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. The win over the Cougars was another maturation process for the Huskies. This was a game the Huskies were supposed to win.
Winning games you are not supposed to win is an easy thing to do when you are trying to establish yourself as a legitimate contender. The key is to win enough of the games you are not supposed to win then win the games you are supposed to win.
In a word consistency. That is the word that separates the great teams from the good teams. While there is no question the Huskies are not a great team, one could argue they are becoming a good team. Good teams overcome adversity to win consistently.
On Sunday the used an 18-0 run to open a 45-30 halftime lead only to see the Cougars answered with 14-4 run to start the second half and narrow the Huskies lead to just 49-44 on a jumper by. Viont’e Daniels. Thybulle converted a four-point play after being fouled attempting a three-pointer and gave the Huskies a 53-44 lead they never relinquished
The Huskies extended the lead to 61-44 as Washington State went scoreless for almost 6½ minutes. David Crisp’s 3-pointer with 4:47 left put Washington up 76-52. The Cougars entered the game second in the nation and first in the Pac-12 with 11.9 3-pointers per game, was held to just 6 of 24 beyond the arc against Washington’s zone defense. The Cougars also committed 15 turnovers.
The Huskies ability to stay focused on both ends of the court resulted in the Huskies best game of the year according to Husky head coach Mike Hopkins:
“It’s about the guys coming in and getting better, that is the bottom line. Every time that we have challenged them or try to teach them something, they have done their best to learn and move forward. We haven’t had one of those nights of “40 minutes together” and “one more” and all of those words that we use until tonight.
When you look at the stat sheet and see 20 assists, you see the ball moving, we did a really good job defensively, I was proud of them. Tonight was a thing of beauty. I think we had our best game of the year.”
The Huskies cap their three-game homestand with games this week against No. 21 Arizona State on Thursday and No. 9 Arizona on Saturday. Washington has not lost more than two games in a row this season.