Though No. 22 Washington has yet to play a true road game this season, it has racked up plenty of frequent-flier miles.
The Huskies (8-2) opened the season at the Armed Forces Classic in Anchorage, Alaska, and later played in the Naismith Hall of Fame Classic in Toronto.
Next up is a trip to Hawaii for three games at the Diamond Head Classic, starting Sunday against Ball State (6-4).
“At the end of the day, Alaska close, Toronto far. Close is good,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins told reporters. “It’s in a beautiful place. It’s close in terms of proximity to where we’re playing our opponents for us being on the West (Coast). It’s Hawaii. That’s exciting to get some vitamin D, and I think will be a really good thing, too. Natural vitamin D! … I’m going for the SPF 75 shirts and shorts and hats.”
The Huskies posted a 6-1 record during their just completed seven-game homestand — the lone loss an 83-76 decision against then-No. 9 Gonzaga in a game that came down to the final two minutes.
The Huskies rebounded with an 81-59 victory against Seattle University on Tuesday as freshman forward Isaiah Stewart had a game-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds.
“We got to feed him,” Huskies point guard Quade Green said of Stewart. “He’s 20 points every game. Just feed him and he’s going to make the right decisions.”
Green added 20 points, shooting 4 for 5 from 3-point range and 7 of 8 overall.
The Huskies overcame a 33-32 halftime deficit and pulled away in the final nine minutes, with Stewart scoring 11 points during a closing 31-11 run.
“I feel like all it is is patience and trusting my teammates and not speeding up,” Stewart said. “I know my teammates have my back and they trust me to catch when they throw it in.”
Ball State is coming off a 65-47 upset win at Georgia Tech as Jarron Coleman scored a game-high 17 points. The Cardinals used an early 13-0 run to take a 20-8 lead and never allowed their Atlantic Coast Conference opponent to get within 10 points the rest of the way.
“We really played our best game of the year by far on both sides of the ball,” Ball State coach James Whitford said. “The visibility of a BCS win is big. In terms of the perception of it and what it means. Our league gets quite a lot of them. It’s not that uncommon.
“You don’t get that many people that play us, and when you get them, it’s a feather in your cap because of the media attention and all the stuff that comes with it. … You get two or three cracks a year, and when you get one, it’s a really good feeling. It’s good for the university. It’s good for everybody,” Whitford said.
The winner of Sunday’s game will meet either UTEP or tournament host Hawaii in Monday’s second round. Boise State, Houston, Portland and Georgia Tech are also playing in the tournament, with the final round on Christmas Day.
–Field Level Media