Washington is riding a seven-game losing streak heading into Saturday’s game at UCLA.
The Huskies lost 62-56 at USC on Thursday to fall below .500 for the first time this season. UW is 12-13, 2-10 in the Pac-12.
Here are three impressions:
TOO MANY THREES, NOT ENOUGH FTs
After connecting on 34 of 82 three-pointers during a three-game stretch in late January and early February, the Huskies are 15 of 55 from beyond the arc in their last two, including 8 of 30 against USC.
Washington’s first offensive option is getting the ball inside to Isaiah Stewart, who drained 5 of 9 shots for 13 points, but was handcuffed by double teams for most of the night.
Too many times, the Huskies settled on perimeter shots rather than attacking the basket. Nahziah Carter finished with a career-high six assists, but he was 1 of 6 on three-pointers and 3 of 11 from the field for eight points.
Washington’s starting backcourt of Jamal Bey and Marcus Tsohonis was a combined 0 for 5 on three-pointers.
30 three-point attempts is too many for UW and its the second most this season.
Conversely, the Huskies were 6 of 7 at the free-throw line. The seven foul shots tied for a season low.
J-MAC LEADS THE WAY
Jaden McDaniels has scored more points and he’s been better on the defensive end, but Thursday might have been his best game of the season.
The 6-foot-9 forward finished with 19 points – three shy of his career-high – on 7-for-14 shooting, including 3 of 7 on three-pointers. He also collected 12 rebounds, three shy of his personal best.
But the one statistic that jumps out is McDaniels had just one turnover in 32 minutes.
McDaniels played under control and used his superior athleticism to excel in 1-on-1 offensive situations. He was the best player on the court in the first half when he tallied 14 points in 15 minutes on 6-for-9 shooting.
Obviously, McDaniels and the Huskies faded in the second half on the offensive end. He exhibited his basketball intellect and savvy while baiting Jonah Matthews into a foul to stop a seven-minute scoring drought.
And McDaniels came off the bench in the third straight game and the fourth time in the past five games.
IS ANYTHING SALVAGEABLE?
After a 10-2 start and preseason Final Four expectations, this season has turned into a disaster for the Huskies.
Theoretically, there’s still enough time for some kind of miraculous recovery that would require UW winning its remaining six regular-season games and making a run to the Pac-12 tournament title game.
(And, of course, the conference tournament winner gets an automatic berth into the NCAAs.)
But Washington has shown no signs that it’s capable of winning four straight games in Las Vegas.
So what’s left for the Huskies?
It would benefit Hopkins and the coaching staff to get reserves like Nate Roberts, Elijah Hardy and Bryan Penn-Johnson on the court in meaningful minutes.
The Huskies need to find a role for Jamal Bey rather than moving him all around the court.
Even though Tsohonis struggled Thursday night and was scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting, the freshman point guard needs more opportunities running the offense. He made a couple of nice passes that didn’t result in points, but displayed signs of ascending as a playmaker.
And Hopkins has to embolden freshman guard RaeQuan Battle, who has the talent to lead the team in scoring next season. Battle’s minutes have been erratic in the past two games after averaging 12 points in the previous three contests.