The Washington Huskies are enjoying a historic start in league play. And coach Mike Hopkins appears to be building a program that will be a Pac-12 contender for years to come.
The Huskies kept rolling this past weekend with home wins against Stanford and Cal, running UW's winning streak to seven games overall and giving the Huskies a 5-0 mark in the conference for the first time in 35 years.
"It's just a record and at the end of the day we've got Oregon and Oregon State (this week)," Hopkins told reporters after topping Cal Saturday. "That's what we have to be concerned about."
Washington has been getting it done with the zone defense Hopkins brought with him to Seattle from Syracuse. Entering this week, the Huskies lead the conference in league play in defensive field goal percentage (.401) and defensive 3-point percentage (.265). Washington also has forced an average of 15.2 turnovers in six Pac-12 games, trailing only Oregon (16.4).
While the Huskies have plenty of goals remaining this season and solid core of underclassmen led by sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell, UW has plenty of reinforcements on the way to fill the void of its standout senior class.
On Sunday, Hopkins got a pledge from one of the biggest prizes in the 2019 recruiting class, as 6-foot-9 forward Isaiah Stewart pledged his commitment to the Huskies. Stewart is ranked No. 5 in the ESPN100 for the 2019 class, and he joins a recruiting class at Washington that already features four-star guards Marcus Tsohonis and RaeQuan Battle.
Though Stewart plays for La Lumiere School in Indiana, he is from Rochester, New York and established a relationship with Hopkins during his time as an assistant at Syracuse. In December, Washington also landed former Kentucky guard Quade Green as a midseason transfer. Green will be eligible in time for the Pac-12 schedule next season.
Player of the Week
For the second time in three weeks, USC's Nick Rakocevic has been named the Pac-12's Player of the Week.
The junior forward from Chicago was the central figure in the Trojans' dismantling of cross-town rival UCLA, needing just 28 minutes to post 21 points and 12 rebounds while going 9-for-12 from the field. Rakocevic also recorded a career-best four assists with only one turnover.
It was Rakocevic's league-leading eighth double-double of the season. The Trojans still played without suspended freshman Kevin Porter Jr., and the win against the Bruins left USC as one of four teams with a 3-2 mark in the Pac-12 after three weeks of league play. USC will have a chance to leapfrog two of the teams ahead of it this week as the Trojans host Arizona on Thursday (7 p.m. MT, FS1) and Arizona State on Saturday (6 p.m. MT, ESPN2).
Single-game tickets for the Pac-12 Conference tournament go on sale Thursday at 11 a.m. MT. All-session tickets already have been available, and all ticket packages can be purchased at Pac-12.com/tickets or by calling 1-888-9AXS-TIX. The tournament once again will be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas beginning March 13 with the title game on Saturday, March 16...Utah freshman Timmy Allen posted the first double-double of his career Sunday against Colorado with 21 points and 10 rebounds...Washington State's Robert Franks returned from a four-game absence due to a hip injury to score 24 points with eight rebounds in the Cougars' win last week against Cal. Franks begins the week as the league's leading scorer at 21.5 points per game...UW's win against Stanford was the program's 1000th at Alaska Airlines Arena. The Huskies are the only Division I team in the nation to collect 1,000 wins in the same arena.