Washington (7-3) vs. #13 Virginia Tech (8-1)
Saturday, December 15th @ 4:00 PM PST
Boardwalk Hall (Atlantic City, New Jersey)
Line: Virginia Tech –7.5
Radio: 1000AM KOMO/97.7 FM
KEY PLAYERS: WASHINGTON
Forward – Noah Dickerson
Noah Dickerson returns for his senior season and is currently averaging 16.4 points and 7.2 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.
Guard – Matisse Thybulle
Matisse Thybulle returns for his senior season and is averaging 7.8 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 18.8 points and 3.4 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: VIRGINIA TECH
Guard – Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a sophomore who in the Hokies’ 81-44 win over South Carolina State, scored his 500th career point in just his 42nd career game. He is currently averaging 17.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Guard – Justin Robinson
Justin Robinson is a senior who in the win over Central Connecticut State, dished out a career-high 13 assists, breaking the old school mark of 12 assists in a game. He is currently averaging 15.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
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 week, the Huskies returned home to face their cross-city counterparts and squeaked by Seattle University 70-62. “We just got sloppy. That’s just the bottom line. We have to do a lot better job! We have to have more respect for that in terms of the game, making extra passes and not just throwing the ball all over the gym.” Washington head coach Mike Hopkins said. Sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell was stellar and led the Huskies with 18 points. The Huskies are playing a real tough opponent in the Hokies in the first round of the inaugural Atlantic City Boardwalk Classic.
On the other side, Virginia Tech is off to a great start to their season so far. The Hokies currently own an 8-1 record. Recently, Virginia Tech won at home against South Carolina State 81-44, after overcoming a cold shooting slump to start the game. “I thought the best lesson that we took, particularly in the first half, is all the shots we were missing are primarily all the shots that we make. We were shooting practice shots. Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said. The Hokies are a dangerous team who likes to attack their opponents and come at them in waves.
ESPN MATCHUP PREDICTOR
• The Huskies are facing their third top 15 team of the season on Saturday, all of which have been away from home with two true road contests at No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 11 Auburn and this matchup with No. 13 Virginia Tech being the first neutral site for a contest against a ranked team.
• UW will be one of three teams nationally to play one three top 15 teams away from home on Saturday joining Duke (all three neutral site) and Gonzaga (two neutral, one true road).
• Nowell became the first Husky underclassman to earn multiple Pac-12 Player of the Week Awards as he picked up his second of the season on Dec. 10 after averaging 22.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists against No. 1 Gonzaga and Seattle U.
• Nowell has upped his assists average this season to 3.4 from 2.7 a year ago … additionally, he is averaging six assists over the last three outings.
• Over UW’s last three games, the Huskies have four averaging double figures in Nowell (17.0), Dickerson (14.0), Thybulle (13.0) and Green (11.3).
• 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 seven points away from joining Noah Dickerson (1,329) and David Crisp (1,160).
• Senior Matisse Thybulle is averaging 2.3 blocks over the first 10 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 127 blocks is fifth all-time at UW.
• Thybulle is the only player in Division I averaging at least 2.3 blocks and 2.7 steals per game … his 2.7 steals per game also rank tied for 10th nationally.
• Joining Thybulle in the block party is sophomore Hameir Wright who already has 18 this year in 10 outings … as a freshman Wright knocked away 36 blocks in 33 games.
• 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 56.9 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 over four percent.
• Nowell has shot over 50 percent from the field in 21 of his 44 career games (47.7 percent) … Nowell is 70-of-123 (56.9%) this season and for his career is at 47.6% (273-of-573).
• Nowell once again leads the Huskies in scoring as he has only scored below 14 points in one game this season … he’s averaging 18.8 ppg over the first 10 games after leading the team with 16.0 ppg a year ago.
• Thybulle is the first player in Pac-12 history since 1992-93 with the career stat line of at least 100 blocks (127), 200 assists (219), 200 steals (232) and 300 rebounds (333), via SportsReference.
• Thybulle, UW’s career steals leader at 232, has now recorded at least one steal in 56-straight games.
About Tonight’s Game
The Hokies enter the game 8-1 on the season and the Huskies are 7-3 this season … The Hokies are ranked 13th in the AP poll and the USA Today Coaches poll.
Last Time Out: VT 81, SC State 44
The Hokies closed out the home stand with an 81-44 win over South Carolina State on Sunday in a snowy Blacksburg … Tech started slowly, but took a 34-23 lead into the half and out scored the Bulldogs, 47-21, after intermission … Nickeil Alexander- Walker led the Hokies with 19 points and Justin Robinson added 16 points … Kerry Blackshear Jr., had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds and Ahmed Hilladded 10 points … Tech held SCSU to just 34 percent from the field and out rebounded the Bulldogs, 39-28.
The Hokies are 2-1 all-time against the Huskies … Tech has won the last two games, including a 103-79 win over Washington
in the 2K Classic last season in Madison Square Garden … Tech is 7-3 all-time against schools currently in the Pac-12.
Justin Robinson is just two assists shy of reaching 500 career assists and becoming just the fourth Hokie to reach that plateau
… He is just five points shy of 1,200 career points … When he reaches the two marks, he will become just the fourth Hokie to do so, joining Bimbo Coles, Malcolm Delaney and Jamon Gordon … Robinson is just 16 assists behind Gordon for third place in career assists at Virginia Tech … He is just five points away from Dorenzo Hudson for 32nd place in career scoring at Virginia Tech.
In the win over South Carolina State, Kerry Blackshear Jr., recorded his first double-double of the season, with 12 points and 13 rebounds …Blackshear’s double-double is the first for the Hokies this season and the first by any Hokie since Justin Robinson had 10 points and 12 assists at Boston College on Jan. 31, 2018 … The 13 rebounds are the most by a Hokie this season.