Preview: UW Huskies challenge No. 1 Gonzaga in Spokane
Bobby Jones was a senior at Washington the last time his Huskies beat Gonzaga.
Washington overcame Adam Morrison’s 43 points to win 99-95 that night in 2005, but Jones, in an interview with The Seattle Times, said what he calls “the Apple Cup of basketball” hasn’t been much of a competition since then.
“I don’t see it as a rivalry, I see domination,” Jones told the Times. “But it can’t stay like this forever so I guess that’s the silver lining.
“They’re a great program and kudos to them. I’m not going to let my so-called hatred for Gonzaga deny me from speaking the truth. But times have changed. We have a different coach in Mike Hopkins and different set of players with a new system. Maybe it’s time for a change in results and it’ll become a real rivalry.”
This year’s Huskies (6-2) travel to Spokane, Wash., to meet the No. 1 Zags (8-0) on Wednesday looking for just their second win in the past 13 games in the series.
After the Gonzaga routed Washington 97-70 in 2006, the series took a nine-hiatus before resuming in 2015. The Bulldogs have recorded three blowout wins since then.
On Wednesday, the Huskies will have to try to figure out how to slow the nation’s No. 2 scoring team. Washington’s 2-3 zone defense has been effective enough to hold opponents to 66.4 points per game, but the Zags come in averaging 98.4.
Ryan Appleby, a member of the 2005 team who holds the Washington record of nine made 3-pointers in a game, said the Huskies, who are shooting 32 percent from deep on the season, need an atypically good outside shooting night to have a shot.
“If they can make outside shots at a clip of like 55 or 60 percent, that’s the X-factor,” Appleby said. “Gonzaga has got a lot of size and experienced guards. It’s going to be difficult on the inside and rebounding.”
The Zags are in the middle of a difficult stretch that started with Saturday’s 103-92 win at Creighton.
As they did a year ago, the Bulldogs trailed the Bluejays at halftime only to come roaring back in the second half.
In both games, Zach Norvell Jr. was the catalyst.
Norvell topped himself this year with 23 second-half points – he had 21 last year after failing to score in the first 20 minutes – to lead Gonzaga.
Does he have some kind of control on his jersey?
“Naw, I don’t have a switch, just trying to stay poised throughout everything,” Norvell told the (Spokane) Spokesman-Review. “Coach (Mark) Few has talked to me a couple of times, just knowing time and score. I’m still learning that as a young player. I have to get it corrected early and not late.”
The Zags’ next two games involve teams ranked in the top 15.
They play No. 7 Tennessee on Sunday and travel to Chapel to face No. 14 North Carolina on Dec. 15.