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Eastern Washington Game Preview & How to Watch

Washington looks to close out the non-conference season with a 3rd straight win over an in-state team

NCAA Basketball: Eastern Washington at Washington James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

How to Watch (and bet)

Date: Thursday, 12/21/23

Tip-Off Time: 6:00 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 -15.5

Eastern Washington Eagles 2023-24 Statistics:

Record: 4-6

Points For per Game: 69.8 ppg (236th)

Points Against per Game: 83.1 ppg (344th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 105.9 (151st)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 107.5 (245th)

Strength of Schedule: 6th

Eastern Washington Key Players:

G- Ellis Magnuson, Sr. 6’1. 195: 2.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 44.4% FG, 22.2% 3pt, 83.3% FT

There are pass first point guards and then at the top of the mountain high above the others there is Ellis Magnuson. He only takes 5% of the teams’ shots when on the floor which might be the lowest total I’ve ever seen from a starter. He has taken just 18 shots in 10 games but has a 3 to 1 assist to turnover ratio which I guess is what is keeping him on the floor.

G- Cedric Coward, Jr. 6’4, 206: 12.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, 48.9% FG, 34.2% 3pt, 85.0% FT

Can a team go anywhere if their leading scorer is a Coward? People are asking the question. Last year he was 3rd in the country in offensive efficiency after shooting a ridiculous 78% on 2-point shot. This year he’s taking almost twice as many attempts as he did and predictably the efficiency has gone way down. He’s still an above average rebounder and a really good free throw shooter so he could cause some problems for UW’s wings on the glass.

G- Casey Jones, Jr. 6’6, 220: 10.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 48.5% FG, 27.8% 3pt, 69.6% FT

Sammammish native Casey Jones has also seen his efficiency drop significantly this year. Although he’s helped by the 5th highest free throw rate in the country so he gets to the line at will. Given that status he probably takes more outside shots than he should but the Huskies will be happy if he settles for jumpers rather than attacking the basket.

G- Jake Kyman, Jr. 6’7, 213: 11.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 44.2% FG, 43.1% 3pt, 75.0% FT

Husky fans will remember Kyman from his freshman year at UCLA when he came off the bench to hit 7 three-pointers in an upset over Washington (Kyman had scored just 18 total points to that point in his career). His shooting has never been the same since that game including at a one year stop at Wyoming but he has regained his form this year and is hitting a very high percentage from deep. Which is good because he doesn’t provide a lot of other benefit in terms of playmaking or defense.

C- Ethan Price, Jr. 6’10, 230: 9.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 45.6% FG, 29.4% 3pt, 83.3% FT

Price was imported from England and has been an extremely consistent piece for EWU averaging between 9.6 and 9.9 points per game every season so far. He’s not a great rebounder particularly on the offensive end. That’s in part because he likes to hang out on the perimeter and shoot the 3-pointer where he’s at 38% for his career. He’s a solid shot blocker and can score inside at a good clip when he does play at the rim.

The Outlook

It’s tough to know quite what to make of an Eastern team that has played one of the toughest schedules in the country. They are 2-6 in road games with both wins coming over sub-170 teams at KenPom and all of the losses coming to top-100 squads by double digits. Their only 2 home games were both blowout wins over non-D1 schools. On paper it seems like the Huskies should be a cinch for a 10+ point victory.

EWU’s offense is a mix of really good and really bad. The good news is that they share the ball. The Eagles are 3rd in the country in the number of assists per field goal made. They aren’t going to try to play isolation ball against superior athletes and will instead continue to move it and try to stress Washington’s defense when they rotate.

Eastern also relies on the 3-point shot quite heavily. Nearly 46% of their attempts are from beyond the arc and they shoot a pretty good 35.1% from deep as a team. That leads to a bit of a high variance approach but means a good shooting night will keep them in it against almost any opponent.

The bad news is just about everything else. They are 339th in the percentage of their points from 2-point shots so they prefer not to take the ball inside. They turn it over constantly (333rd nationally) and they never get second chance opportunities (341st in offensive rebound rate). When your opponents are always getting more possessions than you it makes it very difficult to win.

There’s just not a way to talk about the Eagles’ defense except to say that it just isn’t good. They held 334th ranked Cal Poly to 53 points. Congrats. But the 6 power conference teams they’ve played have all scored at least 75 points but 3 of the 4 Pac-12 schools have eclipsed 95 points (WSU scored 82).

Opponents have had success in part because they make everything from the perimeter. Teams are shooting 38.5% on 3-pointers against Eastern this season which is 345th nationally. I’m sure some of that is bad luck but there aren’t signs of good defense being played elsewhere. They also rank 220th or worse nationally in opponent 2-point percentage, opponent turnover rate, and defensive rebounding rate. Part of that is the whole strength of schedule thing (those numbers don’t include the two romps versus non-D1 schools) but it isn’t good.

For the first time in forever, offense hasn’t been Washington’s problem this year. The Huskies have scored at least 74 points in every game this season and have found ways to score even when the half-court offense occasionally gets bogged down. The Dawgs are deep enough to withstand the injuries they’ve faced so far. Top recruit Wesley Yates still isn’t close to returning, Paul Mulcahy has been playing with a broken finger, and Franck Kepnang left last Sunday’s game with a lower leg injury a year after tearing his ACL. It sounds like Kepnang should be all right to play but if he can’t go then UW will be without arguably their most important player.

This might be a game for Wilhelm Breidenbach rather than Braxton Meah given that Eastern prefers to take shots from the perimeter and rarely goes to the basket making shot blocking/rebounding less important.

You would hope that UW responds to an almost loss versus Seattle in their last game to go out and thump Eastern tonight. I’m hedging a bit based on Kepnang’s availability that the Huskies win comfortably but the Eagles still cover the spread. Which is good news for Washington given my record against the spread so far this year.

Prediction

My record this year: 8-2 Straight Up, 2-7-1 Against the Spread

Washington Huskies- 91, Eastern Washington Eagles- 78