The start to the season was less than ideal for the Washington men’s basketball team.
After 13 minutes, the Huskies trailed by 24 points while converting just 2 of 14 shots from the field and struggling to keep pace offensively with No. 2 Baylor.
Washington made a run late in the first half and cut its deficit to 12, but never got any closer and fell 86-52 in its opener at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Heading into the game, coach Mike Hopkins said he would learn a lot about a young UW team that debuted two new starters, four newcomers and played without suspended star Nahziah Carter.
“Tough night,” Hopkins said following the 34-point defeat. “We felt like we had good practices and we felt like we were ready. From the beginning of the game, we just looked a little bit tight. Some nerves and got down a deep deficit. … when you’re playing against a top team like this, that just can’t happen.
“We showed some signs, put some different lineups in and learned a lot about ourselves, but No. 1 it’s obvious we have to rebound the ball a lot better.”
Before their Dec. 3 matchup at Utah, the Huskies will need to address frontline deficiencies that Baylor exploited for a 50-19 edge in rebounding.
The Bears dominated inside with 21 offensive rebounds, which resulted in a 24-5 advantage in second-chance points.
Washington couldn’t keep Baylor off the glass or slow down a red-hot perimeter attack that sank 13 of 29 three-pointers.
The Huskies had hoped its revamped three-point attack would allow them to stay close to the Bears, but UW converted just 5 of 24 shots outside the arc.
Washington fell behind 31-7 with 7:21 remaining in the first half before scoring seven straight points and finishing the half on a 17-7 run to go into halftime down 38-24.
Last year, the Huskies overcame a 13-point deficit while upsetting then-No. 16 Baylor with a 67-64 win in the opener in Alaska.
This time, the Bears put the game away early in the second half with a 15-5 run to go up 53-29.
Washington trailed by as much as 37 points in its most lopsided defeat in Hopkins’ four-year tenure.
“We did a way better job defending the 3-point line,” Hopkins said when asked the difference between UW’s win over Baylor last year and Sunday’s defeat.
“You play a top team in the country and they go 13 for 29 (on three-pointers). Last year they were plus-4 on rebounding and didn’t hurt us in the paint. We held them to 32% near the basket.
“When we came back in last year’s game, we fought them pretty hard. I felt like there was moments tonight, but not consistent to beat a team of this caliber.”
RaeQuan Battle led Washington (0-1) with 10 points.
Jared Butler scored a game-high 20 points for Baylor (2-0) while Adam Flagler had 17, MaCio Teague 15 and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua 12.
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