Emmitt Matthews Jr. assuming leadership role as Washington hosts Texas Southern

·3 min read

Emmitt Matthews Jr. had a forgettable outing in his first game in a Washington uniform, but his second contest was much more to his liking.

The 6-foot-7 Matthews aims to repeat that second performance on Monday night when Washington (1-1) hosts Texas Southern in Seattle.

Matthews scored just seven points on 2-of-12 shooting in a season-opening 71-64 loss to Northern Illinois. But things improved two nights later when he made 7 of 14 shots while contributing 21 points and nine rebounds during a 73-62 triumph over Northern Arizona.

The 20-point effort was Matthews' first since he twice topped the mark in March of 2019 when he was in the first of three seasons for West Virginia.

"It was fun watching him be so efficient and aggressive on the offensive end," Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said after the win over Northern Arizona.

Matthews is from the Pacific Northwest and was a high school star in Tacoma before opting to play for Bob Huggins and West Virginia.

He started 67 games for the Mountaineers before entering the transfer portal after last season and opting to return home. He sees himself developing into one of Washington's team leaders.

"I want to come in and be a leader and lead this team to win games," Matthews said after his 21-point effort. "We have a great group of guys ... I think my way to lead is through emotion."

Matthews is one of three Huskies scoring in double digits. Terrell Brown Jr. is averaging a team-best 16.5 points and Jamal Bey is contributing 12.5.

Nate Roberts is averaging 7.0 points and 13.5 rebounds. He collected a career-best 19 boards against Northern Illinois and added eight versus Northern Arizona.

Texas Southern (0-2) is playing the third of 13 consecutive road games to start the season.

The Tigers lost 83-66 to Oregon in last Tuesday's opener and dropped a 67-58 decision at Saint Mary's on Friday.

Among the early season road foes are North Carolina State (Nov. 21), BYU (Nov. 24), Florida (Dec. 6), Cincinnati (Dec. 18) and TCU (Dec. 29). Texas Southern's first home game is Jan. 8 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The Tigers reached the NCAA Tournament last season and have traditionally played road-heavy nonconference slates. Coach Johnny Jones said it is geared to get his team playing at its highest level.

"This team gets along extremely well," Jones recently told reporters. "This team will continue to jell and become even closer. It won't fracture, it won't splinter.

"These are tough opponents and these games we play are going to test the character of our team and allow us to continue to get better as a basketball team."

John Walker III is averaging a team-best 17.0 points per game. Joirdon Karl Nicholas is averaging 12.5 points and PJ Henry is at 11.5.

--Field Level Media