It’s the final chance for a Pac-12 team to beat Gonzaga before the league falls apart. Can Washington get a home upset over a top-10 team?
TV schedule: Saturday, December 9th, 11:00 pm ET. ESPN2
Arena: Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle, Washington
In the last decade, the rivalry between Gonzaga and Washington has gone all the way to the Bulldogs’ side, having won each of the last seven games, including a 77-60 result a year ago in Spokane. This time, the Pac-12 squad is hosting; this could be the best group Coach Mike Hopkins has had in a while.
Washington (5-3) is coming off an 85-61 win over Montana State, led by 16 points from big man Franck Kepnang. Keion Brooks only had nine in the game but on the season, leads the Huskies with 20.3 ppg and 7.9 rpg. The new backcourt duo of Sahvir Wheeler (16.1 ppg and 6.9 apg) and Paul Mulcahy (8.6 ppg and 6.1 apg) have been helpful on both ends as well.
Gonzaga (7-1) has a retooled roster as well, with five players averaging in double figures. One of them is Braden Huff, who scored 19 pts in the team’s 111-71 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff this past week. The starting frontcourt of Graham Ike and Anton Watson leads the lead in scoring with at least 14 ppg and 8.0 rpg each.
Guards Ryan Nembhard and Nolan Hickman are also double-digit scorers, with the Creighton transfer averaging over 5.5 apg. Them going up against Wheeler and Mulcahy will be big, as the winner of that specific matchup will have a big part in deciding who wins this game.
This is Gonzaga’s first true road game of the season but as they’ve shown in both Maui and Las Vegas, they’re capable of winning away from Spokane. And regardless of who is in a GU uniform, they can win in Seattle. Expect the Huskies to put up a tough fight but in the end, it’ll be eight straight for Gonzaga.
Prediction: Gonzaga 80, Washington 76