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Game Preview: Gonzaga vs. Washington

The Zags and Huskies are facing off the for the first time in three years.

NCAA Basketball: Wooden Legacy Championship-Washington vs St. Mary’s Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga will play the second of three straight home games this Friday when they host in-state rivals Washington at 6:00 pm. The Zags will not only be looking for their second win of the week, but have a pair of streaks on the line as well.

The Zags’ victory over Kent State was extra nice because it was their 69th straight win in the McCarthey Athletic Center, extending the longest home winning streak in the nation. They will be looking for #70 on Friday against the Huskies, a team they have defeated in each of their last six meetings dating to 2006.

Meet the opponent

Washington Huskies (7-2, 1-1 PAC-12; #79 NET, #95 KenPom)

Washington rolls into Spokane coming off a 1-1 start to PAC-12 play, most recently defeating Colorado on Sunday at home. The Huskies also hold wins over St. Mary’s (OT) and Fresno State, but fell to Oregon State in their lone true road game of the season thus far.

They aren’t Kent State, but UW is still a defensive minded team, holding opponents to 63 points per game and ranking 54th in KenPom’s adjusted defense. They are less of a threat on the offensive end, having yet to break 80 points in a game this year.

6-7 forward Keion Brooks Jr. leads Mike Hopkins’ squad with 16.6 points and seven rebounds per game, so expect Anton Watson to be glued to him throughout. The Huskies also have size that the Golden Flashes did not, namely in 7-1 center Braxton Meah, who had 16 points and three blocks in their win over the Buffaloes.

What to watch for

Offensive consistency: One of the biggest bright spots from the Kent State game was ball security. The Zags turned it over only nine times against one of the best teams in the country at forcing them, a marked improvement over previous games. Despite that, the offense still feels like it lacks consistency, as was evident when their ten-point second half lead evaporated. A team with this many veterans in its rotation should be able to develop more consistency and cohesiveness as the season progresses.

Perimeter defense: This feels like beating an entire farm of dead horses, but stopping the ball on the perimeter will continue to be one of the Zags’ most pressing concerns if they want to fulfill their March aspirations. Hunter Sallis has proved he can be a closer on that end of the floor, but the rest of the backcourt rotation needs to step it up on a regular basis.

Free throw shooting: Gonzaga shot 63% as a team from the stripe on Monday. Drew Timme and Anton Watson, two of the team’s most frequent foul shooters, are combining to shoot less than 60% for the season. Free throws aren’t something that can be analyzed like other aspects of the game, they simply just have to make more of them.