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UC San Diego Game Preview & How to Watch

The Huskies look to get back on track after a Vegas split by returning home against UCSD

Stanford v Washington Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

How to Watch (and bet)

Date: Tuesday, 11/26/23

Tip-Off Time: 7:00 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Streaming: Pac-12.com/live

Radio: Huskies Gameday App, Sports Radio KJR

Location: Seattle, Washington

Betting Line: Washington Huskies -15

UC San Diego Tritons 2023-24 Statistics:

Record: 4-2

Points For per Game: 76.8 ppg (112th)

Points Against per Game: 69.5 ppg (127th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 103.8 (192nd)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 109.1 (283rd)

Strength of Schedule: 340th

UC San Diego Key Players:

G- Hayden Gray, Jr. 6’4. 190: 11.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.3 apg, 491% FG, 20.0% 3pt, 72.1% FT

Gray has come in as a JUCO transfer and is nominally the point guard but has been a little better on the defensive end than on offense so far. He hasn’t been much of a threat from the outside to this point and has an assist rate that’s more in line with a wing than a PG, he just has played a lot of minutes to help his per game totals.

G- Bryce Pope, Sr. 6’3, 185: 19.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, 44.6% FG, 38.5% 3pt, 84.0% FT

It may be early but Pope averaged 18 points per game last season so this isn’t a small sample size aberration. Last year he finished 31st nationally in the percentage of his teams’ shots he took while in the game and he projects to be in a similar range this season. He’s not overwhelmingly efficient but is at least average from every area of the court and manages to still do it while taking a ton of shots. It’s also worth noting his turnover rate is microscopic despite the high usage.

G- Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones, Jr. 6’6, 200: 14.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, 58.3% FG, 20% 3pt, 72.1% FT

What an intriguing player profile for the New Zealand native. He was an all-league performer at the D-II level and almost had a triple-double in their season opener (14, 10, and 9 assists). ATJ leads the Tritons in assists and also has almost as many free throws as 2-pt field goal attempts so he is able to get to the line a ton. He attempted four shots from behind the arc in their last game after only one total in their first five games so is stretching the floor a little more.

F- Francis Nwaokorie, Jr. 6’7, 220: 16.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 54.0% FG, 32.3% 3pt, 81.8% FT

It has been a big start to the season for the Minnesotan who averaged 12 and 7 last year. He started out in a shooting slump making just 25% of his 3’s in the first 5 games before going 3/3 on Sunday. Both of his first two seasons at UCSD he made 38% plus of his long range shots so he is a legitimate stretch forward. His rebounding is way down this season but he has compensated by knocking down everything in the paint as he has shot 78% on 2’s so far.

F- J’Raan Brooks, Sr. 6’9, 215: 7.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 53.3% FG, 54.5% 3pt, 58.3% FT

A familiar face as the former Husky and Garfield grad is in his second season at UCSD. Last year Brooks averaged 9 and 6 as the Tritons’ starting center before getting hurt after just 7 games and missing the rest of the season. He is back and shooting the ball quite well so far. He’s still a below averaged shot blocker and defensive rebounder but is very capable on the offensive glass securing put backs.

The Outlook

Washington returns home tonight for what should feel like a relatively easy game after a 3-game stretch against Nevada, Xavier, and San Diego State who all rank in the top-50 at KenPom right now. UC San Diego has a better record at 4-2 but have played one of the easiest schedules in the country right now. The only team they’ve played in the top-200 at KenPom is Seattle U who they lost to on Sunday by 13 points and their overall stats are inflated by a 116-57 win over D-III La Verne.

There are still definitely players on this squad that could create some problems for Washington. Obviously, Husky fans are familiar with former Dawg J’Raan Brooks who was a 4-star recruit out of high school and will force Braxton Meah and Franck Kepnang out of the paint to guard him on the perimeter. Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones put up at least 16 points and 8 rebounds per game for 3 straight years at the D-II level and has the physicality to put pressure on Keion Brooks Jr. And Bryce Pope is a scorer with decent size who won’t hesitate to shoot over Sahvir Wheeler or Koren Johnson.

It’s also true that UCSD works mostly with a 7-man rotation which can cut both ways. Washington clearly has better bench depth that the Tritons but that advantage gets negated if UCSD is able to play all of their starters 35+ minutes. The Huskies need to try to bully the Tritons inside and get them in foul trouble. If one or two of the starters pick up an early 3rd foul then there is a huge drop-off to their replacements.

Washington’s defense so far this year has been great defending the 3-point shot and UCSD has both not been good at shooting it from deep and doesn’t attempt a lot of 3’s. They don’t have great size but like to attack the basket. The Husky centers will need to be disciplined to avoid biting on pump fakes but this could be a game where UW has 8+ blocks at the end of the night. Hopefully, Braxton Meah has been able to take advantage of the 9 day break to get his ankle feeling 100%.

There’s certainly a chance that UCSD is able to put up a good number of points on this Washington defense. Their smaller size will create mismatches against UW’s centers when they get brought into a pick and roll action. Washington’s size though should allow them to keep pace on the other end and the Huskies’ depth should allow them to pull away over the last 10 minutes for an easy win in the end.

Prediction

My record this year: 4-1 Straight Up, 1-4 Against the Spread

Washington Huskies- 79, UC San Diego Tritons- 66