No. 22 Washington tests new ranking against Seattle

NCAA Basketball
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No. 22 Washington tests new ranking against Seattle

The Washington Huskies moved back into the AP Top 25 this week despite being idle since an 83-76 home loss to current No. 2 Gonzaga on Dec. 8.

No. 22 Washington (7-2) gets back on its home court Tuesday night against crosstown rival Seattle University, the schools separated by less than 3 1/2 miles. The Huskies will be eager to erase the sting of a loss to the Bulldogs in their own gym.

Washington had won five consecutive games before the loss to Gonzaga. It was a good lesson for a young team.

“We made a couple of young turnovers, but we fought,” coach Mike Hopkins said.

Hopkins has high praise for one of his impact freshmen, Isaiah Stewart. The big man leads the Huskies in scoring (17.0 points per game) and rebounding (7.9), while shooting 57.7 percent from the field.

“He’s a special player, and when game plans are designed to stop you on every possession, every game, people don’t know how tough that is,” Hopkins said. “He’s all heart and soul, that’s what he is. I just think he’s the guy that’s leading us right now.”

The hope is that previous nonconference games against Top 25 teams Tennessee, Baylor and Gonzaga will benefit the Huskies going into the Pac-12 season. Washington won one of those, against Baylor.

Another freshman, forward Jaden McDaniels, averages 15.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, but he also has a team-high 33 turnovers. That is a potential team-wide area of improvement for Washington, which has one fewer turnover than its opponents this season, 135-136.

Washington will spend Christmas in Honolulu playing at the Diamond Head Classic, and goes into those three games as the only team in the field that is in the Top 25.

But the Huskies must first deal with the Redhawks of the Western Athletic Conference, winners of four straight since losing five of six games earlier in the season. Seattle (6-5) is led by guard Terrell Brown, a Seattle native who is averaging 20.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists this season.

Brown has three double-doubles this season and has led his team in scoring in nine games.

This will the first Top 25 opponent for the Redhawks in eight years, when Seattle fell to No. 24 Virginia 83-77.

Seattle will have gone 10 days between games. They defeated the University of Portland 73-71 on Dec. 7, then players had to take their final exams.

“We haven’t tasted defeat in December yet,” coach Jim Hayford said. “We’re far from a finished product, but we’re moving in the right direction. We’ve got the next couple of weeks to really jell before we move into WAC play.”

Washington leads the series over Seattle, 30-4, including a current 14-game winning streak. The teams first played each other in the 1953 NCAA West Regional semifinals, with Washington taking a 92-70 victory. After a hiatus, the rivalry returned for the 2008-09 season.

Washington won 70-62 last season, holding off the Redhawks, who rallied from a 20-point deficit to pull within two points with two minutes left.

–Field Level Media

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