Washington vs. Western Kentucky Game Preview

#25 Washington  vs. Western Kentucky

Tuesday, November 6th @ 7:30 p.m. PST

Alaska Airlines Arena (Seattle, Washington)

Line: Washington -8.5

TV: ESPNU

Radio: 570 KVI AM/97.7 FM

 

KEY PLAYERS: WASHINGTON

Forward – Noah Dickerson

Noah Dickerson returns for his senior season after averaging 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season.  He is a dominant player in the paint and can also rebound the basketball.  Last season, Dickerson was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team for his stellar play.

GuardMatisse Thybulle

Matisse Thybulle returns for his senior season after averaging 11.2 points and garnering 101 total steals last season.  He is the spark plug and energy of the team with his elite play on defense.  Last season, Thybulle was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Guard Jaylen Nowell

Jaylen Nowell returns for his sophomore season after averaging 16.0 points and 2.7 assists per game last season.  The talented all-court guard excels in the midrange game and is often the go-to-guy down the stretch.  Last season, Nowell was named to the All-Pac-12 Freshman team.

KEY PLAYERS: WESTERN KENTUCKY

Guard – Taveion Hollingsworth

Taveion Hollingsworth is the team’s leading returning scorer at 13.3 points per game.  Hollingsworth was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team and set new Hilltopper records in 2017-18 for most points scored (506), minutes played (1,312) and games started (38) by a freshman.

Forward – Desean Murray

Desean Murray is a transfer and was named to the Preseason All-C-USA Team.  He started all 34 games last season while averaging 10.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists for a 26-win Auburn Tigers squad that claimed a share of the SEC regular-season championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Center Charles Bassey

Charles Bassey is a freshman center who is the highest-rated recruit to play for WKU in several decades, he’s also one of the top-five youngest players in college basketball this season.

PREVIEW

The Washington Huskies come into the start of their regular season returning all five starters from last season, and that experience will prove to be the driving force to their success this season.  Last week the Huskies finished their exhibition schedule against the Seattle Pacific Falcons and earned a hard-fought 70-61 win.  While the Huskies didn’t play their best, they used it as an opportunity to evaluate and assess what needs to be improved going forward.  “I feel more comfortable because we have experienced players this year than we did last year,” Head Coach Mike Hopkins said yesterday.

On the other side, the Hilltoppers were picked in the preseason media poll to finish first in the Conference USA league.  The Hilltoppers completed the preseason with tune-up victories over Campbellsville (91-66) and Kentucky Wesleyan (96-71) in exhibition play.  Coach Hopkins always talks about playing tough opponents right at the start of the season, to get a true gauge as to where you are at.  Well…he got it.  Western Kentucky will be a tough and stingy test for Hopkins and company, and the Huskies will have to play remarkably better than they did last week against Seattle Pacific.

HUSKY NOTES

• Washington enters the season with two 1,000 point scorers on the team with the potential to add a third as Matisse Thybulle is 85 points away. Only three rosters in UW history have had three 1,000 point scorers at the same time, 2008-09 (NCAA Round of 32) and 1998-99 (NCAA Round of 64). Noah Dickerson currently has 1,165 career points which ranks 29th while David Crisp has 1,067 career points which ranks 34th.• Seniors Matisse Thybulle and David Crisp will be playing in their 100th career games on Tuesday, it will also be Thybulle’s 100th career start as he has started every game of his career.

• UW has representatives on three of the Naismith Starting Five National Award Watch Lists in sophomore Jaylen Nowell(Jerry West Shooting Guard Award), senior Matisse Thybulle (Julius Erving Small Forward Award) and senior Noah Dickerson (Karl Malone Power Forward Award). UW is one of 11 schools nationally to have representatives on three of the 11 awards joining Kentucky, Duke, Tennessee, Virginia, Kansas, Nevada, Auburn, Oregon and Gonzaga.

• The Huskies boast the highest percentage of returning minutes and scoring (95.9%) among Power 5 programs. … UW returns all five starters and better than 95 percent of its rebounding, assists, threes, blocks and steals as well … amongst active career leaders in the Pac-12 Conference, UW leads in rebounds (Noah Dickerson – 709), three-point field goals (David Crisp – 182), steals (Matisse Thybulle – 205) and blocks (Matisse Thybulle – 103).

• With 291 boards this year, Noah Dickerson can become only the 15th member of the Pac-12’s 1,000 career rebounds club. Dickerson, who enters 2018-19 with 709 caroms, grabbed 284 boards as a junior in 2017-18.

• With another 100-steal season, Matisse Thybulle could become only the second member of the Pac-12’s 300 career steals club. Thybulle, who has 205 career thefts following 101 as a junior in 2017-18, would join OSU’s Gary Payton (321) as the lone members.

• Washington’s 2018-19 schedule features two non-conference road tests against teams ranked in the AP preseason top 25 (at Auburn, at Gonzaga). Additionally, Washington will face eight teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

• UW’s senior class of Dominic Green, David Crisp, Noah Dickerson and Matisse Thybulle have combined to play in 388 career games including 251 career starts which is the most by any four seniors at a Power 5 school.

• With his 106 assists a year ago, junior David Crisp became the 40th player in UW history to record 100 assists in a single season … he is 58 away from entering UW’s career top 10 list as he has 259 total assists.

• Washington posted its first 20-win season since 2011-12 with its 21-13 record last season … it was the biggest jump win jump between seasons since 1936-37 to 1937-38 after UW went 9-22 the season prior (2016-17) … it was also the biggest jump (eight wins more) in conference play in UW history as UW went from 2-16 to 10-8 a year ago.

• Out of his UW-record 205 career steals, Matisse Thybulle is creating scoring on 55.1 percent of the direct next possessions … last season that number was 57.4 (58 of 101).

• Thybulle is the first Husky in program history to rank in the career top 10 in both blocks (103) and steals (205).

HILLTOPPERS NOTES

• WKU is 68-31 all-time in season openers. This is the first time the Hilltoppers have opened on the road since starting the 2013-14 campaign at No. 16 Wichita State.

• WKU is 32-98 all-time against ranked opponents, including 8-39 on the road. The Hilltoppers played two ranked teams last season, Purdue and Middle Tennessee, knocking off the Boilermakers in the Bahamas.

• The Hilltoppers’ last road win against a ranked opponent was at No. 4 Kentucky on Nov. 15, 2001.

• LAST MATCHUP AGAINST WASHINGTON: NOVEMBER 25, 2016.  WKU held Washington close throughout the first half, but the Hilltoppers allowed their opponent to pull away late in an 86-47 defeat at the Global Sports Classic in Las Vegas. Que Johnson led WKU with 12 points and five rebounds, and Anton Waters had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

• WKU is 4-6 all-time against the current Pac-12 membership, while head coach Rick Stansbury is 6-7 against current Pac-12 schools. WKU’s win at USC in last year’s NIT was the program’s first-ever road win against a Pac-12 foe, and its first win against a Pac-12 team overall since beating USC at home in 1986.

• The Hilltoppers are tied with Arkansas for the fourth-longest streak in the nation of consecutive games with a made 3-pointer at 976. Only UNLV (1,039), Vanderbilt (1,031) and Duke (1,021) have longer streaks.

• WKU was one of four schools in the nation – along with Kansas, Syracuse and Texas A&M – with wins over teams from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 last season. The Hilltoppers were the only school outside the Power 5 to accomplish the feat.

• WKU finished the 2017-18 season with an official RPI of 32 – its highest since the 2007-08 season, when the Hilltoppers also finished 32nd. The program had not had a higher final RPI since 1994-95.

• Sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth is the team’s leading returning scorer at 13.3 points per game. Hollingsworth was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team and set new Hilltopper records in 2017-18 for most points scored (506), minutes played (1,312) and games started (38) by a freshman. He and graduate senior Desean Murray were named to the Preseason All-C-USA Team.  

• Not only is freshman center Charles Bassey the highest-rated recruit to play for WKU in several decades, he’s also one of the top-five youngest players in college basketball this season.