For the boys from the Palouse (11-9, 3-5), their road trip got off to a rough start losing emphatically to Arizona while also losing their second-leading scorer, Faisal Aden, to a knee injury. Aden's injury especially hurts now as he was coming off a week in which he was named Pac-12 Player of the Week in the Cougars sweep at home of Cal and Stanford.
G – DaVonte Lacy (9.9 PPG, 36% 3PT) vs. Chanse Creekmur (5.1 PPG, 36% 3PT)
F – Abe Lodwick (4.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG) vs. Jonathan Gilling (5.8 PPG, 41% 3PT)
Despite Aden's absence, the Cougars are fortunate to have a solid foundation of guard play that is led by Reggie Moore – one of the top point guards in the Pac-12 to go along with DaVonte Lacy and Marcus Capers on the wings. While they aren't big-time scorers, they are experienced and take care of the ball. With the depth chart taking a hit with no Aden, Mike Ladd and Dexter Kernich-Drew will get more run off the bench.
It's the same old story for ASU with Trent Lockett still out. Chris Colvin will be running the show with Felix and Creekmur hanging out to each side of him. It's essential that Creekmur shows up on Saturday after getting a big donut against Washington. When shooters aren't making shots, they are pretty useless and that's how you lose games. In addition to Max Heller, there might even be a Pierre Newton sighting coming on in relief. I have nothing against walk-ons but there is direct correlation to a 6-14 record and no scholarship guards available in reserve.
Edge – Washington State
Something the Cougars have and take full advantage of is good size. With Brock Motum leading the team in scoring in rebounding, he is not the only valuable big man – Abe Lodwick, Charlie Enquist and D.J. Shelton are all key parts to the rotation.
Things are changing for the Sun Devils – Ruslan Pateev remains solid but Jordan Bachynski has really elevated his game in the last couple weeks and is stealing the Russian's minutes whether he likes it or not. As always, Kyle Cain will also be getting some good minutes and since we don't want to leave the walk-ons out of the frontcourt party, Dave Whitmore might get some action as well.
Edge – Arizona State
How ASU Wins
More than anything else, what ASU needs is quality production from more than one or two guys each game. Every time one guy steps up, another contributor goes quiet – winning teams are balanced and that's what the Sun Devils need to overcome their losing ways. When Jonathan Gilling gets hot, Chanse Creekmur needs to be feeling it as well. When Carrick Felix is carving up the defense by penetrating the lane, he needs to be able to find Pateev or Bachynski when the defense collapses and he needs to believe they will get it done. These are things that have been missing in just about every game this season.
Final Score – Arizona State 66 Washington State 63