They’re long, athletic and have swiftly returned to Pac-12 Conference relevancy under third-year coach Mike Hopkins.
The 23rd-ranked Washington Huskies (6-1) have more than enough talent to give Eastern Washington (4-2) problems on Wednesday in Seattle at American Airlines Arena.
EWU, which also faces national power and neighbor Gonzaga this month, wants to tune up against the country’s best before its Big Sky Conference slate.
The Eagles clipped annual NCAA Tournament qualifier Belmont 87-82 in Cheney last week, days after leading ACC member Boston College on the road in the final minutes before falling 72-68.
Against a Washington team that features three NBA prospects in 6-foot-9 freshman Isaiah Stewart (17.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.2 bpg), 6-6 guard Nahziah Carter (14.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and 6-9 freshman Jaden McDaniels (14.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg), EWU knows it has little margin for error.
Stewart, a five-star recruit, is the 2019 Naismith High School National Player of the Year and is widely expected to be an NBA lottery pick next summer.
“We have to play our game,” EWU coach Shantay Legans said. “They’re an unbelievable rebounding team, they’re great in transition and their length is great.
“But they have to put their jerseys on and play just like we do.”
Hopkins, a longtime assistant under Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim before making the move to Seattle in 2017, was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year each of his two years in the league.
EWU, picked to win the Big Sky after reaching the conference tournament title game the previous two seasons, is 1-15 all time against Washington, upsetting the Huskies 62-58 on Dec. 14, 2002.
The Huskies, picked third in the Pac-12 preseason conference poll, is on a four-game winning streak.
EWU is led by three players averaging double figures, including Kim Aiken Jr. (14.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg), Jacob Davison (16.2 ppg) and Mason Peatling (11 ppg, 5.8 rpg).
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