Washington State Preview

The Arizona State Sun Devils (6-7) will hit the road on Thursday to face the new and improved Washington State Cougars (12-2) in their first away Pac-10 game. The Cougars are coming off a very impressive weekend in Los Angeles in which they put up a mighty battle against the nation's top-ranked UCLA team and lost 55-52. Against a talented USC squad, the Cougars came from behind to win 58-55.

Wazzu can thank new head coach Tony Bennett for their early success. Bennett took over for this legendary father, Dick, and he has kept the family tradition alive with stifling defense. Yet he added a wrinkle of his own, a more up-tempo offense. While they aren't leading the nation in scoring, the intensity on the offensive end has definitely picked up and paid dividends. After a tough loss at the hands of the Bruins, the Cougars handed the Trojans a surprising loss. Senior G Derrick Low scored 13 and sophomore G Kyle Weaver made the go-ahead lay-up and then took a charge to seal the win.

ASU is coming off a pair of tough losses at home to Stanford and Cal, with the later being a defeat in overtime. Four players scored in double digits for ASU, junior G Antwi Atuahene and freshman G Christian Polk each scored 14 and sophomore C Jeff Pendergraph had 11 while freshman G Jerren Shipp had 10. However, Shipp also missed two costly free throws with 23.6 seconds left in overtime that could have cut the Bears lead to one. Freshman F Ryan Anderson had 18 and senior G Ayinde Ubaka had 14 including eight in overtime to lead the Bears.

Head Coach Tony Bennett (1st season, 12-2)

Projected Starters PG – Derrick Low – (15.2 PPG, 44% 3PT)
SG – Nikola Koprivica – (5.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG)
SF – Kyle Weaver – (10.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG)
PF – Daven Harmeling – (7.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG)
C – Robbie Cowgill – (7.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG)

Impact Reserves

G – Mac Hopson
G – Taylor Rochestie
F – Ivory Clark
F – Aron Baynes

Hard to believe that Washington State is sitting pretty at 12-2 with victories over Gonzaga, USC, UW-Milwaukee, and UAB. This just wasn't expected at all by anyone. Coach Bennett has surprised most with his faster paced offense that his father avoided and the team has great leadership with Low and Cowgill.

Low is the team's heart and soul and as he goes, so go the Cougars. Putting up 15.2 points a game and shooting lights out from long range, he has the ability to control the game for the Cougars. His only other teammate in double-digits is Weaver with 10.5 a game. Weaver is their most athletic player and will be sure to give the Devils a hard time. On the post for Washington State will be Cowgill, Hamerling, and senior Ivory Clark as well. All three make up for a lack of dominating size with tough play and a nose for the ball. Recently inserted to the starting line-up is Serbian import freshman G Nikola Koprivica. While he is still very raw but is a great shooter and is very efficient.

First off the bench for Washington State will be Clark, who gets a lot of minutes and is a very physical presence. Clark is scoring 8.7 points a game and collecting 4.9 rebounds per contest. Another big man off the bench is Australian sophomore Aron Baynes. Baynes is the tallest Cougar (6'11") and although he is a project, he is an intimidating force. Spelling the guards off the bench will be Tulane transfer, Taylor Rochestie who is a fine shooter and sophomore Mac Hopson.


This will be an interesting matchup as Low, Weaver, and Koprivica have all been solid defenders thus far and they will give ASU a challenge. With Derek Glasser and Atuahene running the point, they will have to put pressure on Low to make quick decisions and try to force turnovers. On offense, Polk and Shipp will have to show that they can both shoot from deep and penetrate in order to stretch Washington State's swarming defense. If Low gets hot and the ASU freshmen struggle, the Sun Devils are in for a long night.

Solid Edge – Washington State


ASU will have to take advantage of Washington State's lack of size if they want to win. With senior Serge Angounou playing his best basketball in a long time, he needs to work hard on both ends on the floor and be consistent. Harmeling and Clark will likely be the guys following Angounou around and neither of them is as long or as strong as the Sun Devil senior. If he can get hot early, ASU could be in business.

Slight Edge – Arizona State


Jeff Pendergraph and Robbie Cowgill are very different basketball players in terms of style but both of them are equally important in terms of their team's success. Pendergraph is the go-to-guy for ASU. He is a double-double machine, has a soft touch on offense and is a tenacious rebounder. Cowgill is a blue-collar kind of player. He out hustles everyone and is an aggressive defender. Cowgill is always moving and tends to force a lot of fouls and turnovers.

Edge – Push

Final Score – Washington State – 61 Arizona State 56

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