Date: Tuesday, 11/27/18
Tip-Off Time: 6:00 pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: KOMO 1000 AM/97.7 FM and TuneIn
Location: Seattle, Washington
Betting Line: Washington -17
Eastern Washington 2018-19 Statistics:
Points For per Game: 61.5 (325th)
Points Against per Game: 77.2 (250th)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 98.5 (258th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 103.0 (190th)
Eastern Washington Key Players:
F- Jesse Hunt, Sr. 6’7, 210: 14.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 56.1% FG, 61.5% 3pt, 50.0% FT
We start with Eastern’s best player as Jesse leads the Eagles in points, rebounds, blocks, FG%, and 3pt%. He shot 36.8% from deep last year but is due for some regression from his 8/13 start. Hunt can be prone to getting in foul trouble so expect Dickerson to take him down low early and try to get him out of the game. It should be noted though that Eastern’s coach plays guys with 2 fouls at one of the highest rates in the country so he may keep Hunt in there until he actually fouls out.
G- Luka Vulikic, So. 6’6, 190: 4.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.8 apg, 28.0% FG, 14.3% 3pt, 25.0% FT
Eastern’s leading passer is a 6’6 PG who is in the top-100 nationally in assist percentage. That concludes the good stats portion of the description. He’s also averaging 4 turnovers per game and that combined with his terrible shooting percentages make him one of the least efficient players in the country (58.3 offensive rating where 100 is average).
G- Cody Benzel, Sr. 6’4, 175: 8.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 27.8% FG, 28.1% 3pt, 100% FT
Benzel is the definition of a 3-point specialist as a whopping 88% of his shots have come from behind the arc. He has struggled so far but shot better than 40% from beyond the arc the last 2 years so if he gets hot he could be a problem for the zone.
G- Ty Gibson, Sr. 6’3, 190: 9.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 apg, 42.1% FG, 33.3% 3pt, 87.5% FT
The Issaquah High grad is another player who just bombs threes as over 75% of his shots come from deep. He only played 8 minutes combined in their first 2 games but has played heavy minutes in the last 2 and appears fully healthy again.
G- Jack Perry, So. 6’2, 175: 6.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 39.1% FG, 36.8% 3pt, 50.0% FT
Guess what? That’s right, another player who takes almost exclusively 3-pointers. Perry has one of the lowest usage rates you’ll ever see for a player averaging 30+ minutes per game so don’t expect him to take many shots.
2018-19 Eastern Washington Shot Chart
The defensive keys for this game are going to be Jaylen Nowell and Noah Dickerson guarding the corners in the zone because those are pretty much the only shots where Eastern has had any success to this point in the season.
The Eastern Washington Eagles lead the country in percentage of their points that come from 3-pointers as exactly half of their overall points are via the long ball. This is a good strategy for an underdog and undersized team. If you know you can’t compete on a strength or athleticism axis then just put up a bunch of shots that are worth more and hope a lot of them go in. The problem? They aren’t going in so far.
The Eagles are shooting just 29.5% on 3-pointers which is 285th in the country (they’re basically tied with UW for context who we know haven’t been shooting well). But while Washington is very efficient inside the arc and gets a bunch of shots at the foul line, those are also struggles for Eastern. EWU shoots an appalling 39.5% inside the arc (342nd in the country) and 59.6% at the foul line (329th). They also get almost 15% of their 2-pt shots blocked which means that Matisse Thybulle and Hameir Wright might set some records tonight. Finally, they’re 335th in the country in offensive rebound percentage which means it’s unlikely they’ll take advantage of the zone’s biggest defensive flaw.
Now those numbers aren’t opponent adjusted and the Eagles have played 2 of the best shot blocking teams in the country in Oregon and Syracuse. This will be a good test for the Huskies going against a team that has already played the Orange and therefore nearly the same zone. Eastern really struggled against it in their season opener as they put up just 34 points including 10 in the 1st half and shot only 6 of 35 from 3-point range (17.1%). We’ll see if that means they’ll struggle again or if they’ll be able to make adjustments from that experience.
This is a game that the Huskies should not only win but should win with ease. The Eagles lost their previous 2 road games by 32 and 34 points against Syracuse and Oregon. If UW only holds a 5 point lead at halftime it will be another example of them playing down to competition. If UW is going to get their offense jump started this would be a great opportunity where there should be plenty of turnovers/long rebounds to get out in transition.
Washington Huskies- 83, Eastern Washington Eagles- 62
Keep up with the game in the comments below. You can also follow me for all your UW Men’s Basketball News and Game Updates @UWDP_maxvroom