Washington vs. Gonzaga Game Preview

Washington (6-2) vs. #1 Gonzaga (8-0)

Wednesday, December 5th @ 8:00 PM PST

McCarthey Athletic Center (Spokane, Washington)

Line: Washington –15.0

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 1000AM KOMO/97.7 FM

 

KEY PLAYERS: WASHINGTON

Forward – Noah Dickerson

Noah Dickerson returns for his senior season and is currently averaging 17.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this 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 and is averaging 6.8 points this season and garnered 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 and is currently averaging 18.0 points and 3.1 assists per game this 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: GONZAGA

Forward Rui Hachimura

Rui Hachimura is a junior who was named one of 20 candidates for the 2019 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award.  He is currently averaging 21.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Guard Zach Norvell Jr.

Zach Norvell Jr. is a redshirt sophomore who was named one of 20 candidates for the 2019 Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award.  He is currently averaging 18.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Guard Josh Perkins
 
Josh Perkins is a redshirt senior who was named to the Bob Cousy Award Watch List.  This past week, he was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week.  Perkins leads the country with 69 assists and his 8.6 assists per game ranks third in the country.

PREVIEW

The Washington Huskies came 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. This past weekend, the Huskies returned home and won a nail biter against UC Santa Barbara 67-63.  Senior forward Noah Dickerson and sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell paced the Huskies with 22 and 17 points respectfully.  “Am I happy how we played? No!  Am I happy that we won? Yes. And now we’ve got an unbelievable opportunity.”  Washington head coach Mike Hopkins said.  The Huskies face their most daunting test of the season when they travel to “The Kennel” to face the top team in the nation in the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

On the other side, Gonzaga is off to one of their best starts in program history.  The Bulldogs currently boast an undefeated 8-0 record.  Recently, Gonzaga won the Maui Invitational Tournament in Hawaii which was highlighted by their win over the Duke Blue Devils.  “The lights were on us tonight and we played good, which you have to against Duke,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “You have to pretty much play great. I thought we played great.”  This may be Few’s best team ever at Gonzaga and the Bulldogs have a real chance at winning a national championship this season.

ESPN MATCHUP PREDICTOR

HUSKY NOTES

• This will be Washington’s second true road non-conference game so far this season with both being against ranked opponents (at No. 11 Auburn, at No. 1 Gonzaga).

• Over his last four outings, senior Noah Dickerson has scored at least 20 points three times and is averaging 20.3 ppg/8.8 rpg while shooting 56.8 percent from the field … he’s also getting to the FT on average 11.3 times in those outings, up from his season average of 8.5, which ranks fifth nationally.

• Defensively over the last six games, Washington has kept all of its opponents under 70 points while EWU was the second team UW held to under 60 this season.

• The Huskies are one of 12 teams nationally to have two 1,000 point scorers on its current roster and is one of four to potentially have three this season as Matisse Thybulle is 31 points away from joining Noah Dickerson (1,303) and David Crisp (1,140).

• Senior Matisse Thybulle is averaging 2.5 blocks over the first eight games … that’s up from 1.4 as a junior, 0.7 as a sophomore and 0.9 as a freshman … his career total of 124 blocks is fifth all-time at UW.

Thybulle is the only player in Division I averaging at least 2.5 blocks and 2.8 steals per game … his 2.8 steals per game also rank eighth nationally.

• Joining Thybulle in the block party is sophomore Hameir Wright who already has 17 this year in eight outings … as a freshman Wright knocked away 36 blocks in 33 games.

• The Huskies as a team are also ranked fourth in the NCAA in blocks per game (7.0) and total blocks (56) while Thybulle is ranked 23rd nationally (2.5) and Wright is ranked 50th (2.1).

Dickerson posted his sixth career 20/10 double-double against Texas A&M leading the team with 24 points and 17 rebounds … his 11 offensive rebounds were a career high and most by a Husky since Jon Brockman had 12 on Jan. 8, 2009 against Stanford.

Nowell is shooting 57.6 percent from the field this season up from 45.1 a year ago … out of the 20 candidates for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year award, Nowell’s shooting percentage is the best by just under four percent.

Nowell has shot over 50 percent from the field in 19 of his 42 career games (45.2 percent) … Nowell is 53-of-92 (57.6%) this season and for his career is at 47.2% (256-of-542).

Nowell once again leads the Huskies in scoring as he has only scored below 14 points in one game this season … he’s averaging 18.0 ppg over the first eight games after leading the team with 16.0 ppg a year ago.

• Sophomore Naz Carter has been providing a spark off the bench for the Huskies as he is averaging 8.0 points in 19.9 minutes per game.

Thybulle is the first player in Pac-12 history since 1992-93 with the career stat line of at least 100 blocks (124), 200 assists (212), 200 steals (227) and 300 rebounds (328), via SportsReference.

Thybulle, UW’s career steals leader at 227, has now recorded at least one steal in 54-straight games.

• Additionally, Thybulle has posted five career games with 6 or more assists, which is the most by a player in UW history, Tony Wroten had three in his career which is second to Thybulle.

BULLDOGS NOTES

– Gonzaga and Washington meet for the 47th time on Wednesday in, at 8 p.m., in the McCarthey Athletic Center.

– The Huskies have a 29-17 advantage in the series all-time, but GU has won 11 of the last 12 matchups, including the latest last season in Seat- tle, 97-70. Zach Norvell Jr. scored 21 points for No. 12 Gonzaga. Six Zags finished in double-figures including Josh Perkins (14 points), Rui Hachimura (12) and Killian Tillie (11). Perkins had eight assists to one turnover.

– The Zags are 35-18 against Pac-12 competition under Mark Few. GU has won its last five meetings against Pac-12 foes.

– The Zags are coming off of a 103-92 win at Creighton. In GU’s first true road game of the season, three Bulldogs finished with double-doubles. Norvell Jr. scored 23 of his game-high 28 points in the second half.

– Gonzaga defeated then top-ranked Duke in the Maui Invitational Champi- onships. It was the Bulldogs’ first-ever win over a No. 1 ranked team.

– GU is No. 1 in both major polls for the third time in program history.

– Gonzaga started this season No. 3 in the Associated Press preseason poll, the highest preseason ranking in program history.

– The Zags have won six consecutive West Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles. GU was picked first in the WCC preseason poll for the 17th time in the last 18 years.

– This is the 47th all-time meeting between Gonzaga and Washington.

– The Huskies have a 29-17 advantage in the series all-time, but GU has won 11 of the last 12 matchups, including the latest last season in Seattle, 97-70.

– Johnathan Williams had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Zach Norvell Jr. added 21 points for No. 12 Gonzaga. Six Zags finished in double-figures including Josh Perkins (14 points), Rui Hachimura (12) and Killian Tillie (11). Perkins had eight assists to one turnover.

– Gonzaga has won the last four meetings, dating back to a 99-95 Washington win in Dec. 4, 2005.

– Washington won the first meeting in the series, 23-14, on Feb. 24, 1910.

– The Zags have won 10 of the 21 meetings in Spokane, in- cluding all three games inside the McCarthey Athletic Center. – Eighteen of the last 19 meetings between the programs have come in the month of December.

– The Zags are 35-18 against Pac-12 competition under Mark Few. GU has won its last five meetings against Pac-12 foes. – Gonzaga’s last matchup with a Pac-12 opponent was a 91- 74 win over Arizona in the Maui Invitational semifinals.

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