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Washington takes five-game win streak into conference home stand

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Forward Nahziah Carter puts up a three-pointer in Washington's 84-76 win over Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 1. Carter has reached double figures in points in four of the past six games.

The Washington men’s basketball team has all the momentum in the world right now. The Huskies are 3-0 in Pac-12 play, their best start in conference play in four years. They are currently second in the conference standings and are in a great position to add to their undefeated start from the confines of Alaska Airlines Arena against Stanford and California.

Last week, Washington swept a Pac-12 road series for the first time since 2013 with victories over Utah and Colorado.

"It means everything, coming in that’s what we set out to do,” sophomore Jaylen Nowell told reporters after the Colorado game. “Before the road trip, we came together and promised no matter what, we had to come back with two wins, and that's what we did."

Probably the biggest story for Washington during its win streak has been the dramatic improvement of its outside shooting. Once at the bottom of the conference in three-point field goal percentage, the Dawgs now find themselves in the middle of the pack, shooting 33.5 percent from beyond the arc, ninth in the Pac-12.

Naturally, higher shooting percentages lead to more scoring. Against Washington State, Washington put up a season-high 85 points. And, last Saturday against Colorado, Nowell and company scored a season-high 48 points in the first half.

The UW has greatly benefited from a few players who have elevated their games over the last week. Senior point guard David Crisp has been leading the charge, averaging 18.6 points and 1.6 steals per game since the start of Pac-12 play.

Sophomore Nahziah Carter has established himself as the team’s sixth man and the go-to scorer off the bench with his 11.5 points per game over the last five contests.

And junior Sam Timmins, who lost his starting spot to sophomore Hameir Wright, has been playing inspired defense recently, coming up with four blocks last Thursday against Utah.

So far, the Cardinal and Bears are a combined 1-7 in conference play, five of those losses coming by double-digits. Even so, each team has a prolific scorer the Huskies must keep in check.

Stanford sophomore KZ Okpala has been tearing up the stat sheet, averaging 21 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in conference play, with a 29-point performance against Arizona. Meanwhile for Cal, sophomore Justice Sueing leads the scoring charge once again for the Bears with his 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest. In last season’s game at Hec Ed, Sueing scored a game-high 27 points, but the Dawgs still won by double digits.

Reach reporter Chris Angkico at Twitter: @chrisangkico

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