The 25th ranked University of Washington Men’s Basketball (1-1) team 88 to 66 loss to the 11th ranked Auburn Tigers (2-0) was a simply a lesson in big-time basketball. Credit head coach Mike Hopkins for having the foresight to schedule the big games early. Why? It boils down to that old saying what does not kill you, will make you stronger.
While the Huskies avoided the guillotine and will be stronger in the long run, the loss to the Tigers was brutally painful. The Huskies scored the first bucket of the game then watched as the Tigers went on 14-0 run using its speed to create steals and drain three-pointers that left the Huskies dazed and confused. The Tigers used their quickness to move the ball around the Huskies zone and when the Dogs tried to expand the length of the zone by moving away from the basketball, the Tigers were able to easily rebound any shot missed due to the Huskies being so far away from the basket.
“We knew they were really aggressive. We wanted to take away the 3s, so we got hurt on both areas. If we take away the 3s, they got 15 to 20 points on offensive rebounds. If we could hold them to five points or less, that’s what we tried to do. ” Said Husky head coach Miek Hopkins after the game. ” It wasn’t just the rebounding. It was the turnovers too. They scored 30 points off of turnovers. As basic as getting the ball sideline to out of bounds to baseline out of bounds. They were aggressive. They were physical and they were disruptive. That’s a really good basketball team.”
The quickness, speed, and execution pushed Auburn’s lead to 18 and the halftime break and expanded it to 30 points before the Huskies were able to narrow the margin to 22 at games end. The Tigers outrebounded the Huskies 41-24 who committed 18 turnovers to Auburn’s 11. The Huskies converted six points of the Tigers turnovers.
Atlanta native Noah Dickerson had 12 points before fouling out midway through the second half. Jaylen Nowell and Nahzia Carter scored 16 points each to lead the Huskies while Chuma Okeke’s 19 points and 10 rebounds led the Tigers who also got 18 points from guard Samir Doughty.
Auburn center Austin Wiley saw his first action in more than a season, scoring five points in 13 minutes. Wiley, who was forced to sit out last season as part of a federal probe into corruption in college basketball, missed the opener with a left foot injury. He entered the game with 16:56 left in the first half to a huge ovation at Auburn Arena.
While they won’t play in too many venues as hostile as Auburn Arena, the Huskies have to understand that on the road you have to play smart and efficient basketball if you are to have a chance to win. Coming from behind is always difficult but that task is tenfold when attempting to it in front of a hostile crowd.
“Auburn’s a great team. They’re very aggressive. It’s like the Fourth of July, the environment is great. I mean, what a great college basketball environment. One of our things were designed defensively was take away the three, “Hopkins said after the game.
“We had a couple breakdowns. When you start making those plays and getting the crowd involved, it’s hard to come from behind in a place like this. But you got to give Auburn a lot of credit, they forced us into turnovers, they were aggressive on the offensive glass. Those are two areas that we just weren’t great tonight and they were.”