In the weekend opener, the Bruins held on just long enough to win 61-59. Caleb Forrest exposed UCLA's lack of interior presence and scored 19 points. The loss to UCLA was tough but the USC game was much tougher to stomach as both teams battled evenly for 39 minutes only to let the game slip through the cracks in the game's final minute. Klay Thompson led Wazzu with 15 points.
It's been a good week for the Sun Devils as they have been able to relax and recover after just one game last week; a 53-47 win over the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson. To call the game an ugly one would be a major understatement but the Devils prevailed and sealed the deal in the waning seconds with a pair of detrimental fouls going against Arizona.
Head Coach – Tony Bennett
G – Taylor Rochestie – (12.2 PPG, 4.7 APG)
G – Klay Thompson – (11.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
F – Daven Harmeling – (5.4 PPG, 36% 3PT)
F – Caleb Forrest – (6.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG)
C – Aron Baynes – (11.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG)
G – Marcus Capers
G – Nikola Koprivica
F – DeAngelo Casto
F – Abe Lodwick
In the last couple years, Taylor Rochestie paired with Derrick Low teamed up with Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver in one of the most formidable shooting and defensive backcourts in the country.
Now with Low and Weaver departed, Rochestie is the team leader and has a veteran on one side in Daven Harmeling and a talented newcomer in Klay Thompson on the other. The Cougars are still relentless defenders and can make you pay with their shooting. If Rochestie gets comfortable and Thompson gets hot, they will be in good shape.
This will be a good test for the Sun Devils backcourt of Derek Glasser, Ty Abbott, and James Harden. Glasser is a heady player who has shown he can be a nuisance on both ends of the floor for opponents. He has gained more confidence with his shot and single-handedly led the Devils back against Arizona last week.
Abbott looks like he is threatening to break out of a major slump and could be the key to victory if he can knock down open looks. Harden will again be relied on to do most of the playmaking and in the last two games, his scoring has been there but his ball distribution has lacked. For the Devils to pull away, Harden will need to exploit the soft spots of Wazzu's zone.
Edge – ASU
In terms of sheer size, this matchup would favor the Cougars. Both Caleb Forrest and Aron Baynes are giants in the paint. The two big bodies next to each other in the paint leave many opponents to opt to shoot from the outside.
For the most part, that has worked but Forrest will need to be a little more proactive on both ends to keep the pressure off Baynes and the guards. If Baynes can repeat the success he has had against Jeff Pendergraph in the past; it will be good for the Cougs but Baynes hasn't seen the latest version of Pendergraph.
A lot of attention will be paid to the matchup between Baynes and Pendergraph but the player to focus on will be Rihards Kuksiks. The sharpshooter has had an incredible season so far but is coming off his worst game by far with a 1-10 shooting performance in Tucson last week. If Kuksiks can drill a few treys early on, the Cougars will scramble to find an answer and allow the Devils to spread the offense out and attack.
Edge – ASU
While both teams have decent depth, neither team has a game-changer coming off the bench. The Cougars have four guys who spell starters and provide serviceable minutes. Nikola Koprivica and DeAngelo Casto have been the main contributors and Marcus Capers has actually seen a couple starts in the last couple weeks.
For the Sun Devils, the usual trio of Jamelle McMillan, Jerren Shipp, and Eric Boateng are the only players who have gotten any run lately. McMillan and Shipp have struggled mightily with their shots in the last few weeks while Boateng has been strong enough inside to keep opponents honest.
Edge – Even