Even without star-studded freshman forward Jaden McDaniels, the new-look Washington men’s basketball team displayed superior size, speed and skill during an overwhelming 94-35 win in their exhibition opener in Rome.
In their first of four games overseas, the Huskies had no trouble in Thursday’s tune-up against a Peak Warriors team that lost 108-49 to Seton Hall on Wednesday.
Junior forward Nahziah Carter scored a game-high 18 points while five-star recruiting prospect Isaiah Stewart finished with 16 points and eight rebounds in his much-anticipated UW debut.
McDaniels remained in Seattle due to personal reasons, according to a UW spokesperson.
Still, Washington had more than enough firepower in redshirt freshman forward Nate Roberts (16 points and nine rebounds) while sophomore guard Jamal Bey and freshman guard Marcus Tsohonis each finished with 12 points.
The Huskies raced out to a 21-0 lead and were up 23-3 after the first quarter thanks to 11 points from Carter in the opening frame.
Washington led 55-14 at halftime and took an 82-19 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The blowout win provided a glimpse into the many questions surrounding the defending Pac-12 champions, who lost four starters and five of their top six scorers.
Carter, UW’s leading returning scorer who averaged 8.1 points, looked comfortable while stepping into the role vacated by Pac-12 player of the year Jaylen Nowell, who left early for the NBA.
“It was fun to see all the players out there doing what they do best tonight,” Carter said in a team statement. “It was good to get everyone out there together against another team instead of just going up against each other and start to see how this team can develop. We aren’t even close to being where we are going to get to yet, but it was fun to just be back in competition and get things going.”
Carter thrilled the Italian crowd with two dunks, including a fastbreak flush over a defender that was one of 11 slams for the Huskies. He also knocked down two three-pointers.
Washington canned seven shots behind the arc, including a pair from freshman guard RaeQuan Battle.
Bey, who switched to a No. 5 jersey after wearing No. 0 last season, will seemingly get the first chance at replacing Matisse Thybulle, the two-time Pac-12 defensive player of the year.
Bey took over Thybulle’s spot at the top of the zone next to sophomore guard Elijah Hardy, who started at point guard and finished with eight assists.
Junior forward Hameir Wright, UW’s lone returning starter, was the only starter who did not score Thursday.
Bryan Penn-Johnson was the first person off the bench and the 7-foot, 245-pound center did his best work inside while flushing three dunks, including a powerful two-hand jam that appeared to damage the rim.
Due to NCAA transfer rules, Washington played without point guard Quade Green and J’Raan Brooks while senior forward Sam Timmins also sat out because he participated in UW’s foreign tour in 2016. All three sat in street clothes on the bench.
Under NCAA regulations, college basketball teams are able to take international trips once every four years and the Huskies received a NCAA waiver this year.
Washington has a rematch Friday against the Peak Warriors, which is comprised of low-tier professional Italian basketball players.
The Huskies will also play exhibitions Sunday in Pistoia, Italy, and Tuesday in Siena, Italy, before returning home.
The games are being streamed online at FloHoops.
— The Huskies showcased their new Adidas practice gear.