How to Watch (and bet)
Date: Thursday, 11/24/22
Tip-Off Time: 9:30 pm PT
Location: Anaheim, California
Saint Mary’s Gaels 2022-23 Statistics:
Points For per Game: 73.8 (120th)
Points Against per Game: 53.8 (12th)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 108.6 (50th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 88.0 (7th)
Strength of Schedule: 182nd
Saint Mary’s Key Players:
G- Logan Johnson, Sr. 6’2, 177: 11.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.2 apg, 43.5% FG, 21.1% 3pt, 65.0% FT
Johnson has taken over point guard duties after playing more off the ball last year and has thrived to this point. He much prefers to cut to the basket on offense due to his so-so 3-pt shooting but is adept at running a picking roll and finding St. Mary’s bigs or finishing at the hoop. He’s also a tremendous rebounder for his size.
G- Aidan Mahaney, Fr. 6’3, 180: 13.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 40.6% FG, 46.7% 3pt, 68.8% FT
Mahaney has come in as a true freshman and been a sensation for the Gaels. Unlike Johnson, he has struggled to finish at the rim but is a tremendous 3-pt shooting making nearly half of his outside shots on 5 attempts per game. He has the potential to be a true zone buster.
G-Alex Ducas, Sr. 6’7, 220: 13.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.8 apg, 47.3% FG, 50.0% 3pt, 61.5% FT
Last night against Vanderbilt Ducas shot 1/6 from 3-pt range and yet is still making 50% of his shots on 7+ attempts per game which should tell you how insane of a start he got off to this year. He’s pretty much the perfect complimentary wing player as a great shooter, good defender, adequate passer, and solid rebounder.
F- Kyle Bowen, Sr. 6’8, 222: 5.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 40.0% FG, 55.6% 3pt, 55.6% FT
Bowen has been okay as the 5th wheel in this starting lineup and doesn’t shoot the ball very often. Just like a lot of the other Gaels he has been a lot better from 3-pt range than inside the arc. He does the dirty work as a rebounder and shot blocker and never turns the ball over.
C- Mitchell Saxen, Jr. 6’10, 242: 12.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 62.1% FG, 73.7% FT
Those who follow local recruiting will remember Saxen who was a star at Ingraham high school. Washington never appeared very interested and they may regret that. Saxen played limited minutes playing behind Saint Mary’s star Mathias Tass but now that Tass has moved on he has shown off his talent. He’s an above average shot blocker and rebounder though not completely dominant at either and has a polished touch around the rim with a good post-up game. The Gaels will attack the Huskies in the pick and roll with Saxen whenever they’re in man defense.
Washington obviously was hoping to beat Fresno State in the “semifinals” of the Wooden Legacy MTE but it certainly puts them with a difficult challenge on Thanksgiving night. Saint Mary’s is always on the verge of the top-25 and that’s where they are again this year. The Gaels are off to a 6-0 start and haven’t had any contest closer than 8 points. None of their opponents have been in the KenPom top-75 but nonetheless they’ve been dominant against teams better than the Huskies.
The key for Saint Mary’s so far this year has been their defense where they’ve been stifling. When you’re 12th in points per game and 7th in defensive efficiency it makes it pretty obvious you’ve been successful. The key has been an interior defense that no one has been able to penetrate. Opponents are shooting just 38.5% inside the arc which is 5th in the country. Mitchell Saxen and Kyle Bowen aren’t elite shot blockers but they’re both solid in that regard.
So far the Gaels have gotten teams to rely on isolation and hero ball rather than working their offense. They’re 15th in the country with opponents getting an assist on just 36.8% of their made baskets. For a Husky offense that had 0 assists at halftime that certainly suggests that if Washington wants to score, it’s going to come from making a lot of tough 1-on-1 shots.
While offense hasn’t been the strength for Saint Mary’s they’re definitely not slouches. It was an off shooting night for the Gaels making just 3/11 shots from outside against Vanderbilt but the Huskies also struggled going 5/24. Despite that, Saint Mary’s is 11th in the country this year making 41.9% of their 3-point attempts. As evidence last night, that’s unsustainable and is going to drop over the course of the season but the Gaels have several plus shooters and if the Huskies give up open looks it’s not likely that Saint Mary’s will miss very often.
This is also an offense that takes care of the ball as they are 9th in opponent steal rate, getting their pockets picked on just 5.1% of possessions. That doesn’t bode well for a Husky offense that is going to have to find ways to get transition opportunities to have anything close to a good day scoring the ball.
If there’s anything that works in Washington’s favor it’s that the Gaels like to play at a snail’s pace. They are 343rd in average length of possession on offense as they will continue to work the ball until they find the perfect shot. Limiting overall possessions could help keep the Huskies in the game and make it so a few extra 3-pointers can swing the game.
Overall though this is an extremely tough matchup for a Washington team that has yet to gel on offense. If the Huskies are able to stay competitive it will be by putting forth a great defensive effort and making this a game where the winner has 62 points like last night. Even then I’m not sure if the Dawgs can get to 62 points against this Gaels defense. Keion Brooks will have to show up after making just 8/27 shots since he has come back from injury. Washington needs a better performance but I’m not confident it’s coming today.
Happy Thanksgiving all.
Washington Huskies- 58, Saint Mary’s Gaels- 74