Grambling St.-Washington Preview
Washington squeaked past a respectable mid-major opponent in its last game to establish its top start in nine seasons. Extending the season-opening run seems far more certain.
The 16th-ranked Huskies welcome Grambling State to Seattle on Wednesday night looking to add to the Tigers' substantial road struggles.
Washington (8-0) had quite a scare in Sunday's 81-77 home win over Eastern Washington, requiring a 50-point second half to overcome an 11-point deficit at the break.
"Through adversity, I thought we did a really good job," said coach Lorenzo Romar, whose team is nearing its 11-0 start from 2005-06 - the best in his previous 12 seasons at the school. "We pulled together and really, really gathered ourselves and had a great focus down the stretch in that game. We just kind of whittled away at their lead through defense and some guys hit some big shots."
Robert Upshaw led the Huskies with a career-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting off the bench, Nigel Williams-Goss had 19 and Andrew Andrews added 18 with a 12-of-13 mark from the foul line.
Williams-Goss and Darin Johnson made crucial 3-pointers on consecutive possessions in the closing minutes to help secure the win.
"We're all confident shooters," Williams-Goss said. "We all put the time in outside of practice, we shoot a lot during practice, so we have confidence that guys are going to make open shots, whether they're missing or making."
Williams-Goss leads the team with 15.3 points per game and is averaging 17.8 in the last four despite shooting 41.5 percent. He's been limited to 4.0 assists per game over the last three after averaging 7.8 through five.
Andrews, second on the team with 13.3 points per contest, is connecting on just 34.0 percent in the last five games.
Upshaw, a Fresno State transfer, also managed nine rebounds and six blocks. Over the last five games, the 7-foot center has carved out more of a role with 11.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game. His 39 blocks for the season are among the most in the country and already rank ninth on the school's single-season list.
He's been a huge boost for a team that's limiting opponents to 34.0 percent from the floor - among the top 10 in the nation - and 26.1 percent from 3-point range.
Grambling State (2-6) could struggle to reach those numbers. After Monday's 71-43 loss at Oregon State, the Tigers have shot 32.5 percent, 22.0 percent from long range and are averaging 41.2 points in six road losses by an average of 37.6 points.
They trailed Oregon State 41-9 at the break due to 18 turnovers and a 2-of-12 shooting mark.
"They were almost all unforced (turnovers)," Grambling State coach Shawn Walker said. "I thought we got rattled out there."
Forward Mark Gray was the only starter to top two points, managing 14 while reserve Richard Freeman had 10. Gray had totaled 20 points in his first four games of the season. He's been in the starting lineup the last three games and is averaging 13.3 points over the last four.
A'Torri Shine leads the Tigers with 12.4 points per game, but the senior was held scoreless against Oregon State.
Grambling State has dropped its last 10 games against the Top 25 by an average of 39.3 points.