Washington State Preview

The flu bug has hit the Arizona State Sun Devils (9-8, 1-4) on the court and off as they travel to the Palouse with a few missing pieces to take on the Washington State Cougars (13-5, 3-3) on Thursday night.

It was a tough trip to onto rival turf as ASU was beaten by Arizona 80-69 in a frustrating battle that had Herb Sendek leaving town thankful that there is only one Derrick Williams in the Pac-10. The Wildcats star had 31 points and had no problem with any of ASU's big men. Trent Lockett and Ty Abbott led the way with 17 and 14 respectively.

As for Washington State, the Cougars had a scorching non-conference season, struggled out of the gates in conference play but have picked it up recently. Last week, they split on the road in the Bay Area with a win over Stanford to cap off the weekend. Leading the charge was Klay Thompson with 21 but Faisal Aden wasn't far behind with 20 of his own.

Projected Starters:

G – Reggie Moore (8.8 PPG, 4.1 APG) vs. Jamelle McMillan (5.9 PPG, 4.4 APG)

G – Faisal Aden (14.6 PPG, 36% 3PT) vs. Ty Abbott (13.4 PPG, 38% 3PT)

G – Klay Thompson (22.9 PPG, 44% 3PT) vs. Trent Lockett (13.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG)

F – Abe Lodwick (3.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG) vs. Rihards Kuksiks (9.5 PPG, 37% 3PT)

F – DeAngelo Casto (9.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG) vs. Ruslan Pateev (3.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG)

Backcourt

Reggie Moore returns from suspension to give the Cougs a lift in the backcourt and feed the beasts in Thompson and Aden. The best backcourt in the conference, Thompson is an electrifying player who impacts the game in every single facet while Aden is a JUCO-transfer who has stepped in very nicely to become a formidable complement to Thompson. Off the pine for Wazzu will be Marcus Capers and Dre Winston.

It's the same old trio for ASU as McMillan, Abbott and Lockett will man the backcourt positions. McMillan looked sluggish in his return from injury from last week and will look to find his rhythm this weekend. Abbott and Lockett are starting to do well in taking the scoring load by feeding off each other to create a good inside-outside combo. Coming on in reserve will be Marcus Jackson, Keala King and Corey Hawkins. Brandon Dunson won't play on this road trip due to illness.

Edge – Washington State

Frontcourt

DeAngelo Casto is a big body that will bang with the best of them in the conference. Joining him down low is Lodwick; a quiet player in terms of scoring but does everything pretty well. The bench consists of Brock Motum and Patrick Simon.

It's going to be interesting to see how Sendek utilizes the interior rotation as Pateev, Kyle Cain and Jordan Bachynski will get playing time but it's unsure how that playing time will be distributed. On the hand, Carrick Felix (illness) and Chanse Creekmur (death in the family) didn't even make the trip up north so Kuksiks will be leaned on heavily and we could possibly see King playing down low to add some physicality when Kuksiks needs a breather.

Edge – Even

X–Factor

Rebounding. This team has lost a few more games than they would have liked but this conference is wide open and there is certainly enough time to right this ship and it all starts with rebounding. Getting crushed on the glass is a big reason this team has struggled. The second and third chances kill any hope for momentum on the other end. Whether it's mixing up the defensive strategy or even adding another big man in the rotation instead of running with four guards. Either way, in order for this season to be resurrected, the boards need to be controlled by the guys in maroon and gold.

Who Will Win and Why

It's been ugly in recent weeks aside from the Tulsa win and the illness and family circumstances that will sideline three players and Associate Head Coach Dedrique Taylor all weekend isn't helping things but Herb Sendek won't let a stretch like this last too much longer. The Devils will start hitting their shots and get in sync with each other just in time to steal a road win in Pullman before heading to Seattle to pull off the sweep.

Final Score – ASU 71 Wazzu 66


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