SEATTLE--On a night when top-ranked Kentucky made the wrong type of history and lost at home against unranked Evansville, No. 20 Washington nearly provided further proof that there's no such thing as a sure thing in college basketball.
During a tougher-than-expected 56-46 win over Mount St. Mary's, the Huskies fired up errant shots at the start and in some cases quite literally kicked the ball away in an error-filled first half that resulted in an 21-21 tie at the break and a sobering halftime speech.
"I just told them, I just want you to compete," coach Mike Hopkins said. "There are three things you got to do. Play hard, play smart and play together.
"I didn't think we played hard in the first half. We had to play harder. We had to compete. I thought in the second half, there was more of an uptick."
Despite two highlight dunks from Nahziah Carter that got a dormant Alaska Airlines Arena buzzing and a game-high 16 points from Isaiah Stewart, the Huskies never truly found their offensive rhythm Tuesday night.
Ultimately, Washington (2-0) scored enough to pull away at the end, but the second-half recovery isn't going to inspire any UW fan to rush and make Final Four reservations for Atlanta.
"We're going to have a lot of ups and downs with this team," Hopkins said. "There's going to be a lot of learning experiences, we're lucky today that we were able to win and learn rather than lose and learn."
It's early in the season, but two things appear to be true about Washington, which upset then-No. 16 Baylor 67-64 last Friday.
The Huskies are long, athletic and a menace defensively.
But then, you already knew that and it was hardly a surprise that UW blocked 11 shots -- including five from Stewart -- and held the Mountaineers to 29.1% shooting from the field.