Washington Huskies vs Saint Mary’s Match Preview and Watch

How to watch (and bet)

Date: Thursday 11/24/22

tip-off time: 9:30 p.m. PT

TV: ESPN2

Stream: Espn.com/live

Location: Anaheim, California

DraftKings Betting Line: Washington Huskies +11

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Saint Mary’s Gaels 2022-23 Stats:

Recording: 6-0

Points per game: 73.8 (120.)

Counter points per game: 53.8 (12th)

Adjusted Offense Efficiency: 108.6 (50th)

Adjusted Block Efficiency: 88.0 (7th)

Schedule Strength: 182

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Saint Mary key players:

G-Logan Johnson, Sr. 6’2, 177: 11.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.2 apg, 43.5% FG, 21.1% 3pt, 65.0% FT

Johnson took over point guard duties after playing more off the ball last year and has flourished to this point. He much prefers to cut to the basket on offense due to his mediocre 3-point shooting, but is adept at executing a picking roll and finding St. Mary’s Bigs or finishing at the basket. He’s also a massive rebounder for his size.

G-Aidan Mahaney, Fr. 6’3, 180: 13.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 40.6% FG, 46.7% 3pt, 68.8% FT

Mahaney is a true freshman and a sensation for the Gaels. Unlike Johnson, he struggles to land on the rim but is a great 3-point shooter, making nearly half his outside shots on 5 attempts per game. He has the potential to be a real zone breaker.

G-Alex Ducas, Sr. 6’7, 220: 13.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.8 apg, 47.3% FG, 50.0% 3pt, 61.5% FT

Last night against Vanderbilt, Ducas shot 1/6 from 3-point range and is still making 50% of his shots on 7+ tries per game, which should tell you how crazy his start to the year has been. He’s pretty much the perfect complementary winger as a great shooter, good defender, adequate passer and solid rebounder.

F- Kyle Bowen, Sr. 6’8, 222: 5.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 40.0% FG, 55.6% 3pt, 55.6% FT

Bowen has been fine as a 5th wheel on this starting lineup and doesn’t shoot the ball very often. Just like many other Gaels, he was much better from 3-point range than inside the arc. He does the dirty work as a rebounder and shot blocker and never turns the ball over.

C-Mitchell Saxen, Jr. 6’10, 242: 12.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 62.1% FG, 73.7% FT

Those following local recruitment will remember Saxen, who was a star at Ingraham High School. Washington never seemed very interested and they may regret it. Saxen played just minutes behind Saint Mary star Mathias Tass but now that Tass has moved on he has shown his talent. He’s an above-average shot blocker and rebounder, while not fully dominant either, and has a polished touch on the edge with good post-up play. The Gaels will attack the Huskies in pick and roll with Saxen whenever they are in man defense.

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The outlook

Washington was obviously hoping to beat Fresno State in the “semifinals” of the Wooden Legacy MTE, but it certainly presents them with a tough challenge on Thanksgiving night. Saint Mary’s is always on the edge of the top 25 and they are again this year. The Gaels are off to a 6-0 start and have yet to have a contest closer than 8 points. None of their opponents were in the KenPom top-75, but nonetheless they were dominant against teams better than the Huskies.

The key for Saint Mary’s so far this year has been their defense where they have choked. If you’re 12th in points per game and 7th in defensive efficiency, it’s pretty obvious that you’ve been successful. The key was a central defense that nobody could penetrate. Opponents shoot only 38.5% inside the arc, which is fifth in the country. Mitchell Saxen and Kyle Bowen aren’t elite shot blockers, but they’re both solid in that regard.

So far, the Gaels have made teams rely on Isolation and Hero Ball instead of working their offense. They are 15th in the country, with opponents only assisting 36.8% of their goals. For a Husky offense that had 0 assists at halftime, it certainly suggests Washington will want to score when there are plenty of hard 1-on-1 shots.

While offense wasn’t Saint Mary’s forte, they’re definitely no louts. It was a poor shooting night for the Gaels, who only made 3/11 shots from the outside against Vanderbilt, but the Huskies also struggled to go 5/24. Despite this, Saint Mary’s ranks 11th in the country this year, making 41.9% of their 3-point attempts. As evidence last night, that’s untenable and will go down as the season progresses, but the Gaels have several plus shooters and if the Huskies give up open looks Saint Mary’s is unlikely to miss very often.

This is also an offense that cares about the ball, as they rank 9th in opponent steal rate, stealing their pockets on just 5.1% of possessions. That doesn’t bode well for a Husky offense, which must find ways to get transition opportunities to even remotely have a good day scoring the ball.

If there’s one thing that speaks for Washington, it’s that the Gaels like to play at a snail’s pace. They are 343rd in average possession time on offense as they will continue to work the ball until they find the perfect shot. Limiting total ownership could help keep the Huskies in the game and make it so that a few extra 3-pointers can swing the game.

Overall, however, this is an extremely tough matchup for a Washington team that has yet to solidify on offense. If the Huskies can stay competitive they will put up a great defensive performance and make this a game where the winner has 62 points like last night. Even then, I’m not sure the Dawgs can get to 62 against this Gaels defense. Keion Brooks has to come up after just 8/27 shots as he returned from injury. Washington needs a better performance but I’m not confident it will come today.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

forecast

Washington Huskies– 58, Saint Mary’s Gaels – 74

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