Last night in Seattle, for the first time in over a decade, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton were on the same basketball court. Only this time, it was Shawn Kemp Jr. and Gary Payton II. Payton brought his Oregon State Beavers into Alaska Airlines Arena to take on Kemp and the Washington Huskies.
Both teams came into the contest with an 11-4 record. Washington, after starting the season 11-0, was on a four game losing streak, having lost their last three to Pac-12 rivals Cal, Stanford, and Washington State. Oregon State, on the other hand, had won three of their last four with wins over Arizona and Arizona State, giving them a 2-1 conference record.
Payton II came into the game leading his team with 12.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.9 steals (leading the Pac-12) per game. The Huskies were being led by 14.7 points and 6.7 assists from sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss and 11.1 points and 7.5 rebounds from junior center, and potential NBA first round pick, Robert Upshaw. Kemp was averaging 10.6 points and 4.1 rebounds before this contest.
Under the watchful eyes of their fathers, as well as fellow Sonics legends Slick Watts, Sam Perkins, and Jack Sikma, Kemp started the game with a layup and followed it up with a fast break jam reminiscent of his old man. Kemp was, at all times, the most physically imposing force on the court. While Upshaw can reach every top shelf in the world, Kemp has broad shoulders and big arms. However, he seems to shy away from contact at times and tends to be pushed around by smaller players. He ended up with only one rebound.
Payton had a rough go of it. He played a little sloppy on the offensive end, having four turnovers and not scoring until the 6:25 mark of the second half, when he hit two free throws. His first, and only, field goal came at the 3:51 mark, when he tight-rope-walked the end-line and threw down a vicious one-handled slam. While he definitely has the talent, this was an off night for him offensively. Defensively, however, Payton was a force. He had four blocks, three of them in transition, two steals, and eight rebounds.
UW snapped their four-game skid and got their first conference win of the season behind a double-double and six blocks from Upshaw.
|Gary Payton II||38||1-7||0-2||2-2||2||6||8||3||2||4||4||4||4|
|Shawn Kemp Jr.||34||3-5||0-0||2-3||1||0||1||1||0||1||2||2||8|
The elder Payton and Kemp were shown on the big screen shortly before the end of the first half, sitting side by side. The crowd all rose to their feet and gave the pair a standing ovation while chanting "Save Our Sonics." One had to wonder if the two had a wager on the game, as in the second half Payton seemed to grow increasingly frustrated in his alma mater's performance while Kemp laughed and slapped him on the leg.