No. 21 Washington expects physical matchup with Houston

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Washington coach Mike Hopkins mentioned that his McDonald’s All-American center Isaiah Stewart is “unstoppable” after his 26-point, 13-rebound performance in a win over Hawaii on Monday night.

He also jokingly self-critiqued his utilization of Stewart, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound force around the basket.

“You sit there and wonder, ‘Why aren’t we giving him the ball every time?’ He’s obviously a problem down there,” Hopkins said during the Huskies’ postgame radio show after the 72-61 win over the Rainbow Warriors in the Diamond Head Classic semifinal game at Honolulu.

Stewart, a two-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week, made 13 of Washington’s 24 shots in the game. He missed only eight times but grabbed three offensive rebounds.

No. 21 Washington (10-2) will face Houston (9-3) in the tournament’s championship game on Wednesday.

The Cougars have won seven of their last eight games and have not trailed in their last three games. The Huskies have won eight of their last nine games, with the only loss to No. 1 Gonzaga on Dec. 8.

Washington freshman Jaden McDaniels, another McDonald’s All-American, added 13 rebounds in the win over Hawaii. The work on the boards will be key with Houston entering Monday’s game third nationally in rebounding margin (plus-11.6).

Houston also was third nationally in total rebounds (43.5 rebounds per game) and fourth in offensive rebounds (14.8 per game). It finished plus-17 in rebounding margin against Georgia Tech on Monday, with 42 total rebounds, including 16 on the offensive glass.

Houston junior forward Fabian White Jr. recorded his first double-double of the season (15 points and 12 rebounds) to lead the Cougars’ rebounding effort against the Yellow Jackets in a 70-59 win.

“A huge key was playing Cougar basketball, and that’s getting two hands on the ball off the glass and try to impose our will,” Houston assistant coach Kellen Sampson said on the Cougars’ postgame radio show. “To be plus-17 with 16 offensive rebounds, that helped us reach our goal. Our goal in every game is we want to get 50 percent of our missed shots. We got 16 of our 32 misses so that’s a big checkmark for us.”

Houston sophomore guard Quentin Grimes, also a McDonald’s All-American, scored 26 points after making 10 of his first 11 shots from the field against Georgia Tech.

He had 23 of his points in the first half after coming off an 18-point performance — all in the second half — in the Cougars’ 81-56 win over Portland in the opening-round game of the Diamond Head Classic on Sunday.

“We’re going to be playing a team that’s as physical and as good of an offensive rebounding team as you’re going to get in Houston,” Hopkins said. “It will be a great test for us. It’s a very physical, tough team. It will be a great challenge for us.

“They’re a team that will really pound it. Quentin Grimes can really shoot it. They’re going to go to the glass as hard as anybody.”

Washington is 5-2 against Houston in a series that dates to 1958. The last meeting between the schools was on Dec. 24, 2004, when the Huskies beat the Cougars 110-63 at Seattle.

–Field Level Media

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