Husky men see ranked team battles continue against No. 23 Auburn

SEATTLE — Mike Hopkins believed the Washington men’s basketball team needed to balance their emotions, execute the game plan and take on the toughness of No. 23 Auburn to end their three-year winning streak against ranked teams.

“These are the games in which there are no motivational talks,” said the UW coach. “They know who you’re playing. You know the opportunity and now you need to get out there and execute.

“The most important thing is that you can’t be too high and you can’t be too low. You just have to be stoic and balanced against a team like this. And you have to play 40 minutes. you have to be tough We did that.”

Not on a Wednesday night and certainly not for 40 minutes.

The Huskies fell 15 points in the first half, gave the Tigers a mid-game fight for about 10 minutes and ended up fading during an 84-61 loss and a 12th straight loss to a ranked team.

Washington (9-4, 1-1) aimed to use their non-conference final as a chance to restart a season that included some surprise wins and upset losses.

“Who we’re going to be for the rest of the season starts now,” the Huskies tweeted hours before facing the Tigers.

And yet, in front of 8,502 spectators in the Alaska Airlines Arena, UW delivered what was probably their worst offensive game of the season.

Hopkins warned the Huskies not to repeat the mistakes of their first encounter four years ago, which resulted in an 88-66 loss in Auburn.

“When you play Auburn, they’re an aggressive team,” Hopkins said. “They play exceptionally hard. They have great energy, just like their head coach. They smash the glass. They try to cause chaos and steal. They do.

“In the first half of our game, when we played them three years ago, we had nine turnovers in the first half that were 20 points and we were down 20 at halftime. So this is what you have to do.”

This time, Washington committed just seven turnovers, leading to two points in the first half.

The Huskies were crushed by a terrible shooting performance that saw them convert just four of their first 27 attempts while falling 27-12 before halftime with 3:20 left.

That’s when PJ Fuller II stepped in front of the pass at the tip of the key, passing a defender and converting a fast-break layup despite being fouled, giving a mostly silent, purple-clad husky crowd a reason to cheer.

Fuller missed the free throw that followed, but his basket sparked an 11-2 run for Washington, who went 31-23 at halftime.

The Huskies reduced their deficit to 39:33, with 16:12 remaining in the second half after Koren Johnson’s layup. Auburn responded with a 15-2 run over the next 5 minutes to move up to 54-35 and essentially end the game.

Late in the game, the Tigers tied with nine straight field goals. They shot 55.9% in the game and 72.4% in the second half. Johni Broome and Jaylin Williams each had 18 points and eight rebounds for Auburn (9-3).

Keion Brooks Jr. had 15 points and Johnson had 12 for Washington

. Husky men see ranked team battles continue against No. 23 Auburn

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