Washington State Preview

Heading into their final true road game of the season, the Arizona State Sun Devils (21-6, 10-5) travel to Pullman to take on the Washington State Cougars (15-13, 7-9) on Saturday night in a big game that could have a big impact on the Pac-10 standings.

The Sun Devils are coming off a heartbreaking 73-70 overtime loss at the hands of the conference's top team, the Washington Huskies. The Sun Devils made a valiant comeback to come back in regulation and fought hard in overtime but losing James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph to fouls was too tough to overcome in front of a hostile crowd.

Pendergraph was sensational with 24 points and 10 rebounds while James Harden scored 19 points including the game-tying dunk after picking Justin Dentmon clean in the game's waning seconds. The Huskies were led by Jon Brockman with 21 points and 11 boards.

Washington State has had a tough year after two straight tournament runs but can still pack a mean punch as evidenced by their resounding 69-53 victory over the Arizona Wildcats. Taylor Rochestie and Klay Thompson paced the Cougars with 17 and 16 respectively. The game was back and forth in the first half but Wazzu outscored UofA 43-24 in the second half.

Head Coach – Tony Bennett

Projected Starters

G – Taylor Rochestie – (13.3 PPG, 4.7 APG)
G – Marcus Capers – (1.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG)
G – Klay Thompson – (13.0 PPG, 43% 3PT)
F – Daven Harmeling – (4.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG)
F – Aron Baynes – (12.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG)

Impact Reserves

G – Nikola Koprivica
G – Abe Lodwick
F – DeAngelo Casto
F – Caleb Forrest

Recent Matchup

The Sun Devils capped off a disappointing weekend at home with a 65-55 loss to the Cougars. Klay Thompson was unconscious with 28 points while Aron Baynes had 22 points and 9 rebounds. ASU was led by James Harden, who scored 26 points and was the only Devil in double-figures.

Key Stat

0-3. The Sun Devils are 21-3 against schools not from the state of Washington. After getting swept at home by the two schools from the Evergreen State, the Sun Devils lost again to UW and will now try to avoid the season sweep from the Cougars as well.

When the Sun Devils have the ball

With Harden and Pendergraph doing the heavy lifting and Rihards Kuksiks as the long range threat, it's up to Derek Glasser and/or Ty Abbott to be a fourth option to keep the offense balanced and opponents scrambling. Abbott has seen his minutes dwindle some to Jamelle McMillan but if he can start knocking down some open shots and getting to the basket – he will make ASU as dangerous as ever.

When the Cougars have the ball

A grind-it-out kind of squad, the Cougars move the ball well and can make defenses pay with their perimeter shooting. Rochestie and Thompson are great scorers and Baynes is a force down low. The offense can be contained if ASU can get out on the perimeter more than usual and disrupt the passing lanes. Another player who can be dangerous is Harmeling – he is feisty player that does the little things well.

X-Factor

Rihards Kuksiks. In the first game against the Cougars, the Latvian sharpshooter missed 8 of his 10 three-point attempts and the offense really stalled without his help. If Rik gets into his usual rhythm and can either make a team pay for double-teaming or he can demand enough defensive attention that everyone else has more room to operate, then the Devils will have a big advantage.

Who will win and why

The Sun Devils won't let the Evergreen State completely shut them out. Harden will be able to penetrate and Kuksiks and Abbott will benefit from the defense collapsing in the middle. As long as Klay Thompson doesn't go off for 28 and hit it from everywhere in the gym, the Sun Devils should win a tight one.

Final Score – Arizona State 61 Washington State 54


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