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Eastern Washington Eagles Game Preview/Open Thread

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The Huskies look to get off to a 2-0 start at home

NCAA Basketball: Eastern Washington at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Essentials

Date: Sunday, 11/12/17

Tip-Off Time: 5:00pm PST

TV: Pac-12 Network

Radio: KOMO 1000

Betting Line: Washington -9.5

Eastern Washington 2016-17 Statistics:

Record: 22-12

Points For per Game: 78.8 ppg (42nd)

Points Against per Game: 77.2 ppg (275th)

Strength of Schedule: 281st

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 109.6 (82nd)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 110.8 (296th)

Eastern Washington Key Players (stats from 2016-17):

C- Benas Griciunas, Sr. 7’0, 244: 3.0ppg, 1.8rpg, 0.3apg, 46.2% FG, 68.8% FT, 33.3% 3pt

The grad transfer from Charlotte started his college career at Auburn and gives the Eagles a much needed injection of size down low. He didn’t play a ton of minutes for the 49ers last season but scored 18 points with 9 rebounds including 3 three-pointers in an exhibition win over Portland so he’ll be heavily involved for them.

F- Mason Peatling, So. 6’8, 220: 4.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 0.7apg, 54.4% FG, 56% FT, 36.7% 3pt

Peatling is the tallest returning Eagle at 6’8. Peatling backed up the starting center who averaged 20 points and 9 rebounds last year so he didn’t get a chance to play much but was efficient as a stretch big.

F- Ty Gibson Jr. 6’3, 190: 5.2ppg, 1.6rpg, 0.7apg, 47.7% FG, 85.7% FT, 48.5% 3pt

Gibson played 17 minutes per game for the Eagles last season and had some interesting statistics. He was last on the team in usage rate but was 2nd in the country in offensive efficiency by shooting nearly 50% from deep and almost never turning it over on his limited possessions. The Huskies can’t lose track of him on the perimeter of he’ll make them pay.

G- Sir Washington, Sr. 6’3, 180: 6.6ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.9apg, 37.7% FG, 72.3% FT, 35.3% 3pt

First off, great name. Should’ve been a Husky. He struggled finishing at the rim but was extremely good at getting to the line last year so the Huskies will have to guard against the drive and be careful with their positioning to not foul.

G- Bogdan Bliznyuk, Sr. 6’6, 215: 20.6ppg, 6.5rpg, 4.0apg, 47.4% FG, 82.1% FT, 31.7% 3pt

The Ukraine native has the size for a point guard you almost never see out of the Big Sky. He led the team in scoring and assists last season and was 2nd in rebounds as the only player for Eastern ever to record a triple double. He is a pre-season 1st team all-Big Sky selection and will likely become the program leader in points scored (surpassing Venky Jois) this season.

The Outlook

Last season Eastern Washington was an even more extreme version of the Huskies as they had a better offense but a worse defense. The Eagles were almost last in the country in forcing turnovers and were also poor at giving up three-pointers. However the offense was very dangerous, ranking in the top-100 nationally in shooting from 2, from 3, and from the free throw line.

This year’s squad should once again be dangerous on offense. They added size with Griciunas while maintaining the ability to have 5 three-point shooters on the floor at once. This appears to be another match-up where the Husky zone may struggle. Bliznyuk is one of the better players that the Huskies will see outside of conference play and has the ability like Markelle Fultz did last year to stuff the stat sheet. The Eagles are content to take their time on offense to get the best possible shot and aren’t going to rush things.

UW has deficiencies scoring in the half court but Eastern isn’t going to do much to enhance those problems. Jaylen Nowell demonstrated last game that it’s going to take a premium defender to slow him down and Eastern doesn’t have one of those. Belmont was successful doubling Noah Dickerson every time he touched the ball and Washington will need to adjust to find open shooters. The Huskies should be 2-0 when they head to New York to play Providence at Madison Square Garden in a few days.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 92, Eastern Washington Eagles- 83

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