Washington Huskies (2-1)
Last time out: W, 92-80 vs. Eastern Washington on Sunday
Coming off a 14-point home loss to UC-Irvine, things were looking bad for the Huskies down 11 close to midway through the second half. But Washington rallied behind freshman guard Nigel Williams-Goss' 22-points on 9-of-15 shooting performance to win by 12.
Four other Huskies finished in double figures. Senior forward Paris Blackwell notched a double-double with 16 points (6-of-7 from the line) and 11 rebounds. Washington shot a respectable 44.8 percent from the field but just 1-of-13 on 3-pointers. The Huskies won the points in the paint battle 44-32, outrebounded Eastern Michigan 48-35 and manufactured 17 second-chance points.
Record: 18-16, 9-9 Pac-12
Washington finished tied for sixth in the Pac-12, a disappointing finish after being crowned Pac-12 regular season championships the season before. The Huskies were picked by the league's media to finish fourth in the North division.
Head coach: Lorenzo Romar
At Washington (12th season): 239-130. Career (18th season): 332-218
What they do well, where they struggle:
Run, run, and run some more
The Huskies love to get out on the break and push the ball in transition. With speedy guards like Wilcox and Williams-Goss and versatile forwards that can run the floor like Blackwell and Shawn Kemp, Jr., Washington presents a matchup nightmare in the open court.
"Their speed, their transition game is the best we have watched on film," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "And I have a pretty strong impression that it's the best we will have seen at this point and maybe for a long time. They get the ball out of bounds really quick. They attack and do a great job of playing off of one pass, getting the ball ahead and attacking the rim. They want to play fast."
Washington's transition game has everyone involved in the offense. Four of the five starters average double figures, while freshman guard Darin Johnson is averaging 11.3 points per game off the bench. Junior guard Mike Anderson is close to making it six players in double figures, chipping in nine per game.
"I think they can all score," Crean said. "There's no question that they can score and they can score quick. Wilcox can score from so many different places. I don't know if I would pinpoint and say ‘They just do this or they just do that'. The ball gets moved. They can score. They've got great freedom."
So far, the Huskies go as their ability to push the ball goes. In two wins, they're averaging 14 fast break points. In their loss, they had just four. Washington ranks 40th in the country (and first among Pac-12 teams) in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted tempo metric, which estimates how many possessions per 40 minutes Washington would have against a D-1 team that plays at an average tempo.
The Huskies don't get out and run with reckless abandon, either. Washington has the Pac-12's second best turnover margin at +5.0, and have turned the ball over a conference-low nine times per game.
Washington has made its living at the line, currently leading the Pac-12 in free throw percentage (78.8). It's another reason why Crean stressed the importance of transition defense.
"They get to the line a lot off the break," Crean said. "They're very, very good in attacking off the break. Transition defense in that sense, again, this is where the new rules really play into it. We have to be able to really exploit the same things."
Put all of that together and Washington is averaging 84.1 points per game on the young season despite shooting just 41 percent from the field.
Thursday's game could easily turn into a shootout, though. The Huskies allow opponent to shoot a conference-worst 49 percent from the floor and have allowed a Pac-12 worst 81.3 points per game .
G C.J. Wilcox, SR
Wilcox is off to a hot start this year, averaging 20.3 points per game despite shooting just 40 percent from the floor. Instead, he's done most of his damage at the line, where's he's 23-of-27.
Wilcox, the 37th member of the Huskies' 1,000-point club, was named Second Team All-Pac 12 last season.
G Nigel Williams-Goss, FR
Williams-Goss, the Huskies' starting point guard, has impressed in his young college basketball career. He has a 4-to-1 assist ratio (16 assists, 4 turnovers) and has registered a team-high nine steals.
"I haven't really thought much about that," Crean said of Williams-Goss' impressive assist-to-turnover ratio. "I think I'm more concerned about his runner in the lane and the fact that he can shoot. I know he's a big shot maker."
William-Goss' perimeter game still needs work (0-for-5 on 3-pointers), but overall he's shooting 46 from the floor. For him to contribute like he has as a passer and scorer so immediately (he is tied for second on the team with 13.7 points per game) is a huge boost for the Huskies.