In a season of firsts for the young Huskies, Saturday’s trip to Washington State presents another new challenge in their college basketball careers — the first time they’ll be booed.
PULLMAN — In a season of firsts for the young Huskies, Saturday’s trip to Washington State presents another new challenge in their college basketball careers — the first time they’ll be booed.
“I’m excited for it,” freshman guard David Crisp said. “It’s our first real away game. In the past, I feel like I react well to away crowds. I just feel like it motivates me more. I feel like it will be fun.
“You’ve got to be mentally tough. I block a lot of stuff out, but you still hear it.”
No team has logged more travel miles then Washington, which journeyed to China and the Bahamas for nonconference November games.
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However, the Huskies’ short flight to snow-packed Pullman lands them in the middle of a good ol’ fashioned East vs. West cross-state basketball rivalry that began in 1910.
You can argue the Huskies (10-4, 2-0 Pac-12) have beaten better teams than WSU (9-5, 1-1). And you could make the case that Washington’s 80-64 loss to Gonzaga earlier this season was a good lesson in how to deal with the hype that surrounds a rivalry game.
But UW’s seven freshmen, which includes four starters, have never played in front of a hostile crowd.
“When you have neutral games both teams get rooted for a little bit, but when you’re on the road, everyone is against you,” UW senior captain Andrew Andrews said. “We’ll have a good response to it. A lot of these guys like being the underdog. They actually take it and play better with it. So it’ll be a good experience for us.”
Granted, WSU draws the smallest home crowds in the Pac-12, averaging just 2,595. But Saturday’s noon tipoff at Beasley Coliseum is sure to attract one of the largest crowds of the season despite a forecast of subfreezing temperatures.
In UW’s previous trip to the Palouse, 5,567 witnessed Andrews put on a show last February. He scored a career-high 35 points, including a game-winning three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left that gave the Huskies an 87-84 victory.
“For me that was probably the biggest play since I’ve been here just because the stage that it was on as far as it being a rivalry game,” Andrews said.
No one shot or game is ever truly the turning point in a career, but Andrews’ basket against Washington State might have been a bit of foreshadowing.
This season, the 6-foot-2 guard is in the midst of putting together one of the finest seasons in Husky history. His 21.1 points per game leads the Pac-12 and is the highest scoring average for a UW player since the 1972-73 season, when Louie Nelson averaged 23.0.
Andrews matched his career scoring high last week during an epic 96-93 double-overtime victory over then-No. 25 UCLA. He also canned a game-winning putback in Sunday’s 87-85 win against USC.
“Games like the Washington State game there last year did nothing but let the outside people in on more of what he had been doing,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said.
Romar isn’t overly concerned about Andrews, who is averaging 23.5 points in four games away from home.
However, UW’s scoring average dips dramatically from 89.8 points per game at Alaska Airlines Arena to 70.5 away from home.
“When you go on the road … you have to make sure that you try to take care of the ball even more,” Romar said. “Bad shots are the first pass to a fast break for the other team. You’ve just got to be more aware.
“But in terms of your philosophy and your style of play, we’re ready to go on the road in terms of what you’re supposed to do. You just can’t get distracted and sidetracked.”