Anything seems possible for the Huskies following a 74-65 win over the Jayhawks that ranks as one of the greatest nonconference wins in school history.
The historical impact of the Washington men’s basketball team’s stunning 74-65 victory over No. 2 Kansas is staggering.
The Huskies entered Wednesday’s game at the Sprint Center 0-29 away from home versus top-2 teams and they hadn’t beaten a top-5 team on the road since 1951.
In fact, UW was 4-80 away from home against top-10 ranked teams.
But past disappointments played no part in a dazzling performance for the Huskies (7-2) and first-year coach Mike Hopkins, who needed just nine games to notch arguably the biggest nonconference victory in UW history.
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Here are a few observations on Washington’s big win.
Mike Hopkins can coach
Maybe you thought the Huskies were premature in firing Lorenzo Romar last March. Maybe you were underwhelmed with UW hiring Hopkins, an assistant at Syracuse the previous 22 years with no real head-coaching experience. And maybe you were underwhelmed by Washington’s 6-2 start, which included wins against mid-majors and losses on the road against Power-5 Conference teams.
But there’s no disputing that Hopkins can coach. One game didn’t necessarily prove that, but his steadfast belief in the 2-3 zone is unshakeable. He’s a devout disciple in the zone and he’s gotten the Huskies to wholeheartedly believe and execute the defensive scheme. Hopkins and his coaching staff knew exactly how they were going to slow down a Kansas offense that averaged 91 points and ranked sixth in the nation in scoring. They made it a priority to disrupt KU’s three-point shooting and held the Jayhawks to 5-for-20 shooting behind the arc.
In doing so, UW allowed junior guard Lagerald Vick a career-high 28 points on 12-for-23 shooting mostly in the paint and within 5-foot of the basket. No KU player took more than 12 shots. Washington negated Jayhawks leading scorer Devonte Graham who entered the game with back-to-back 35-point outbursts. UW also shut down Svi Mykhailiuk, KU’s second leading scorer, who finished with 8 points on 3-for-12 shooting.
It was a gamble in tactic, but more of a belief. Hopkins has preached the Huskies will win with its defense and they did Wednesday while holding the Jayhawks to 45.2 percent shooting from the floor and 25 percent (5 of 20) on…