Washington is coming off a split of a gruelingstretch, upending then-No. 2 Kansas 74-65 in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 6 beforefalling to No. 13 Gonzaga 97-70 at home four nights later. The Huskies have since had a week off as they prepare for their final three nonconference contests– all at home – starting with Sunday’s date with Loyola Marymount.
Against Gonzaga, Washington shot 47.3 percentfrom the field and did a decent job taking care of the ball with 12 turnovers. However,the Huskies hit only 11-of-19 free throws and were outrebounded 40-27 whileallowing the visitors to grab 13 offensive boards. Protecting the glass remainsa concern as Washington adjusts to playing the extended 2-3 zone defense newcoach Mike Hopkins has brought with him from his two decades at Syracuse. “That’swhat we’ve been working on – it’s rebounding and making sure we can get back andrebound out of our defense, even if we’re extended on the 3-point line,” Hopkinssaid at a news conference Friday.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (5-4): The Lions, of theWest Coast Conference, had dropped two straight and three of four beforebeating visiting Cal State Northridge 74-57 on Dec. 9, meaning they’ll have hadeight days off prior to Sunday’s game. Guard James Batemon, a transfer fromNorth Dakota State, had a game-high 25 points, including a career-high four3-pointers, against Northridge and is pacing the team with 16.9 points and 4.8assists per outing. Eli Scott, a 6-foot-5 forward, is averaging 13.7 points and ateam-most 8.0 rebounds while swingman Steven Haney (11.1 points) is a thirdplayer averaging double figures for the Lions, who have been strong on the offensiveglass, ranking seventh nationally with 14.8 offensive rebounds per contest, buthave struggled taking care of the ball with 143 turnovers to only 130 assists.
ABOUT WASHINGTON (7-3): Freshman guard JaylenNowell is the Huskies’ leading scorer at 17.1 points, but he has struggled oflate, averaging 12.0 points over his last four outings and was taken out of thestarting lineup and moved into the sixth-man role for the contest againstGonzaga. Forward Noah Dickerson (16.2 points) and guards David Crisp (13.2) andMatisse Thybulle (11.4) also are averaging double figures while Crisp, Tybulleand Nowell all are averaging at least 2.6 assists. The 6-foot-8 Dickerson isaveraging a team-most 8.2 rebounds for Washington, which owns a plus-2.3average rebound margin.
1. Washington holds a 4-1 lead in the series, butSunday’s game will be the first meeting since 2005.
2. The Huskies are tied for 31st nationallywith 8.6 steals per game and rank in the top 30 in both free throw attempts(268) and free throws made (187).
3. Haney has accounted for 20 of the Lions’ 573-pointers so far and ranks sixth in school history with 155 total treys intwo-plus seasons.
PREDICTION: Washington 81, Loyola Marymount 74