SEATTLE — Beating No. 2 Kansas and becoming the biggest story in college basketball for 24 hours was an experience for Washington.
To hear Huskies coach Mike Hopkins and his players Saturday, that’s all it was: an experience.
UW (7-2) claims it won’t let a single game against a national title favorite alter its collective perspective. Such an outlook could prove vital when facing another powerhouse in No. 12 Gonzaga (7-2) at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Alaska Airlines Arena.
“We’ve talked every game is (about) always moving forward, always trying to get better,” Hopkins said, “getting them to buy in with your game plan and how we want to play.
“You could have the greatest game plan in the world … but the kids have to go out an execute it. They did.”
Several items went according to plan for the Huskies in their 74-65 win over the Jayhawks.
UW took away the 3-pointer and forced KU to shoot 3 of 15 for 25 percent. Coming into the game, the Jayhawks were shooting 43.5 percent and averaging 35 points from beyond.
Just six more teams scored more from 3 than Kansas this season.
Junior point guard David Crisp went from scorer to facilitator. He finished tied for a game-high seven assists while also shooting 2 of 5 from 3.
“It was a great win, obviously, but we executed the game plan,” Crisp said. “On our end, it was like ‘we put out a game plan, executed it’ and that’s what we go into every game doing.
“We got that done. For everybody to see us do that against them, that’s what made it so special. Everybody can see the progress we’re making.”
Recent events have led to UW winning five straight games for the first time since the 2014-15 season. UW opened with 11 consecutive wins only to finish 16-15.
Two of the team’s wins that year came against No. 13 San Diego State and No. 15 Oklahoma.
As for this year, the Huskies find themselves in a spot to upset the No. 2 team in America while trying to beat a cross-state rival that’s also ranked.
From Crisp to freshman forward Hameir Wright, they know nothing will come easy against the Bulldogs.
“I always thought of Gonzaga like the New England Patriots: They’re always finding some type of way to win games,” Wright said. “Growing up, I will never see this team in the regular season but come tournament time, they’re always a high seed.”
Of course, there’s a bit of a different look to this year’s tilt.
Hopkins, a native Southern Californian, played at Syracuse, where he was also an assistant. He knows Gonzaga coach Mark Few from their previous interactions and had nothing but praise for his counterpart.
“He’s one of the great coaches and great people in the business,” Hopkins said. “I’ve known him from USA Basketball … I have so much respect for him and what he’s built.”
Wright, who grew up in Albany, N.Y., knows about the Bulldogs from what he watched on television as a child.
Crisp’s experience is a bit different. Growing up in Washington, he knew about Gonzaga and the team’s success under Few.
Over time, Crisp would have a more personal interaction with the Bulldogs. He’s 0-2 against the Bulldogs and the Huskies haven’t won a contest since the 2005-06 season.
“They had a great team and one of the best teams (in America) last year with that team,” Crisp said about the Gonzaga team that beat UW 98-71 and finished as the national runner-up with a 37-2 mark. “I’m definitely thinking about it because I played terrible and the game didn’t go well. I’m trying to make up for that.”