PaintGod. Big Block Bob. The Blockness Monster.Whatever you want to call him, Robert Upshaw has already helped transform the UW's defense into one of the best in the country and has proven to Husky fans he was worth the wait, dominating the game on both ends of the court.
A year ago, as Upshaw sat on the bench due to NCAA transfer rules, the Huskies allowed 74.7 points per game and allowed opponents to shoot 47.5% on average. This season the Huskies are holding opponents to 57.6 points per game and opponents are shooting just 33% from the field (fourth best in country) as the Huskies are off to their best start since the 2005-2006 season.
But even though Upshaw has become a household name for Husky fans and the UW's opponents, he has failed to earn the national attention that will eventually surround his name by the season's end. The Fresno native will have the perfect opportunity to put himself, and the Huskies,back in the national basketball spotlight when the Huskies try to improve to 10-0 when they take on No. 15 Oklahoma on Saturday at the MGM Showcase.
Against an Oklahoma team that features just one player who is 6-foot-10 or taller, Upshaw once again has a chance to even better his nation-leading 4.2 blocks per game average. Both of Oklahoma's leading scorers, Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins, are guards and could be severely limited if Upshaw controls the paint. We saw last night that even if he doesn't block the shot,Upshaw's presence is enough to alter the game, as a Grambling State guard shot a layup attempt over the backboard while trying to avoid Upshaw's long arms.
Offensively, Upshaw has shown he can take advantage of smaller opponents and open up the game for the rest of the players on the court. He is shooting 75.6% in the paint and is averaging 10.9 points to go along with his 7.1 rebounds in just 19.1 minutes per game. If you look at his 40 minute stats Upshaw is averaging 22.8 points, 14.9 rebounds and 8.8 blocks.
Let's hope we see some more of this on Saturday. Clear The Deck!!!
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Robert Upshaw takes it to the hoop with authority. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UWHuskies?src=hash">#UWHuskies</a> <a href="http://t.co/hdUypmATS8">http://t.co/hdUypmATS8</a></p>— UW Men's Basketball (@UW_MBB) <a href="https://twitter.com/UW_MBB/status/545462466470105088">December 18, 2014</a></blockquote>
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The Huskies are one step closer to an undefeated nonconference season and Upshaw's presence will be a huge key if the Huskies are able to remain undefeated on Saturday.
Some post-game interviews via Christian Caple
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Will Upshaw have another block party on Saturday? Are the Huskies ready to take the next step and take down the Sooners? Leave your answers and additional thoughts in the comments section below, and don't forget to follow Erik on Twitter.