After struggling for a couple weeks, the Dawgs are coming off a home sweep of the Bay Area schools in which they turned on the burners with 109 points and 87 points respectively in the two convincing wins. Against Cal, Isaiah Thomas led six double-digit scorers with 23 points while his 22 points were the tops against Stanford as well.
Head Coach: Lorenzo Romar vs. Herb Sendek
G – Isaiah Thomas (17.0 PPG, 5.7 APG) vs. Jamelle McMillan (7.2 PPG, 4.0 APG)
F – Aziz N'Diaye (4.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG) vs. Kyle Cain (5.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG)
Even with Abdul Gaddy injured, this backcourt is one of the best in the land with Thomas leading the charge and Suggs and Holiday wreaking havoc on both ends. Thomas is a bulldog that can impact the game in a variety of ways whether it is his unlimited range or his dynamic playmaking ability – he's a tough matchup. Suggs is a great shooter who is just one of those guys who always finds himself getting open and making you cringe before he even releases the shot. Holiday is underrated in that he plays extremely tough defense and he is only now really opening up his offensive game. Off the bench is one of the most annoying opponents on the planet – Venoy Overton.
McMillan is playing great basketball right now while Abbott and Lockett are the only real consistent offensive options on this squad. It's disappointing that Abbott is stuck on a losing team right now because he is a treasure to watch on both ends and really deserves more accolades. Keala King will come off the bench and I really do hope he gets a longer look in the last month of the season as he is easily the most explosive guard on the team but he has struggled finding his stroke. He made a few plays against UofA that no one else on the team could have made and I hope to see more of him.
Edge – Washington
Bryan-Amaning just destroyed ASU in the last meeting and he is probably licking his chops again. He is joined by N'Diaye down low and the Devils will need to do a better job of boxing out or the second chance points will be a plenty. Darnell Gant is their first option off the bench.
Kyle Cain will get the nod to start down low and will see plenty of relief from Jordan Bachynski and maybe Ruslan Pateev as well. Their play in the post will likely have a big impact on the final score. If Bryan-Amaning and N'Diaye can be limited, the chances for an ASU victory will be much improved. Rihards Kuksiks will be on the other side down low and his offense/shooting really needs to wake up because he can be a huge liability if he isn't producing any offense. Chanse Creekmur and Carrick Felix will get minutes in Kuksiks role as well.
Edge – Washington
Rebounds. Kyle Cain is a good rebounder and Bachynski is starting to get more comfortable and they need to really get physical to battle for the boards against Washington's big front line. With balanced rebounding battle, the Devils will have a chance to get more offensive opportunities in transition and will force the Huskies to shoot well.
Who Will Win and Why
It's been a terrible season in the Valley and it won't get better on Thursday. Washington simply has too many weapons and ASU is just ill-prepared to close out tight games. I don't think Bryan-Amaning will be as dominant in this game but Thomas, Holiday and Suggs are dangerous enough to keep the Huskies on top.
Final Score – Washington 84 ASU 68