The toughest portion of the nonconference schedule is over for the Washington Huskies men’s basketball team.
Now, victories over Tulane and Stony Brook are the only remaining obstacles for the 16th-ranked Huskies en route to an unbeaten nonconference record.
They’ll pursue their 11th consecutive victory Monday when Tulane visits Hec Edmundson Pavilion for an 8 p.m. game. It will be a quick turnaround for the Huskies, who defeated 15th-ranked Oklahoma, 69-67, in the MGM Showcase in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The Huskies (10-0) led the Sooners by 20 points in the first half, but the Sooners chipped that deficit to 13 by halftime and came within one possession of tying the score or taking the lead several times in the second half.
But UW mustered defensive stops each time OU threatened to take control, and eventually earned what could be the Huskies’ most impressive nonconference victory. They also defeated then-No. 13 San Diego State, 49-46, on Dec. 7.
“I would like to think we’ve been growing up this entire nonconference season,” coach Lorenzo Romar said in Las Vegas on Saturday night, “and this team (Oklahoma) forced us to grow up a little more tonight, based on what they brought to us.”
After returning to Seattle on Sunday afternoon, the Huskies had a film session and walk-through in preparation for Tulane.
Jernard Jarreau, who led the Huskies with 12 points against Oklahoma, might have a particular interest in the team Tulane brings to Seattle on Monday. Tulane’s campus is located in New Orleans, the city in which Jarreau was born and raised.
The Huskies played at Tulane last season, a game scheduled strictly because of Jarreau’s New Orleans roots. But Jarreau tore his anterior cruciate ligament in UW’s season opener against Seattle University, so he wasn’t able to play in the Huskies’ 73-62 victory over the Green Wave.
It was still an enriching trip. Jarreau’s mother, Katrina, hosted the entire Huskies team for a dinner she prepared at her home – where Jernard grew up – and the team later visited the home of famed political commentator James Carville, who is a friend of UW athletic director Scott Woodward, another Louisiana native.
Jarreau is averaging 5.3 points and 4.8 rebounds in 10 starts for the Huskies this season, and is still trying to play through the kind of struggles common among players returning from major knee surgery. But he was one of the most important players for UW against Oklahoma as he was 6 for 9 from the field en route to a season-high 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 31 minutes.
The Green Wave returns four of its five starters from last year’s game, including guards Jonathan Stark and Louis Dabney, who scored 25 and 16 points against the Huskies a year ago, respectively.
Dabney, a 6-foot-3 junior from New Orleans, leads Tulane in scoring with 13.1 points per game, plus a 47.1 percent mark from the 3-point line.
Since a 71-49 loss to Wake Forest in its opener, Tulane has won nine consecutive games – against Mississippi Valley State, Southern-New Orleans, Southern, Southeastern Louisiana, Tennessee Tech, Loyola Chicago, Mississippi State, Savannah State and Jackson State.
Washington concludes its nonconference schedule with a 5 p.m. game Dec. 28 against Stony Brook. The Huskies open Pac-12 play at California on Jan. 2.
Christian Caple: 253-597-8437