Washington Preview

A weekend at home couldn't come at a better time for the Arizona State Sun Devils (10-5, 0-2) as they look to get their first Pac-10 win in their home conference opener against the Washington Huskies (10-3, 1-1). The Devils were swept on the road in the LA to open the conference slate while the Huskies started Pac-10 play at home with a split against the Oregon schools.

It was a disappointing start for ASU after picking up ten wins in the non-conference slate including a third place finish in the preseason NIT but all that momentum took a serious dive getting swept. UCLA came out and couldn't miss early to put the Devils in a hole that proved insurmountable. Rihards Kuksiks scored all of his team-leading 15 points in the first half while UCLA made 11 of their 17 three-pointers as Nikola Dragovic tied a career high with 23 points to lead the Bruins.

Against USC, the Devils shot 24% and scored just 37 points. The lone bright spot was Demetrius Walker's 11 points off the bench to lead the team.

Up in Seattle, the Huskies raced out to a fast start and held on to beat Oregon State with Quincy Pondexter putting 20 points and grabbing 10 boards to spark the victory. In their second tilt of the weekend, Washington fell to an upstart Oregon Ducks squad after being outplayed across the board. Isaiah Thomas put up 25 points for the Huskies in the loss.

Head Coach – Lorenzo Romar (259-174) vs. Herb Sendek (318-206)

Projected Starters

G – Venoy Overton – (8.4 PPG, 3.3 APG) vs. Derek Glasser (11.1 PPG, 5.2 APG)

G – Isaiah Thomas – (18.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG) vs. Ty Abbott (7.9 PPG, 41% 3PT)

F – Darnell Gant – (3.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG) vs. Jamelle McMillan (8.7 PPG, 46% 3PT)

F – Quincy Pondexter – (21.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG) vs. Rihards Kuksiks (11.4 PPG, 37% 3PT)

F – Matthew Bryan-Amaning – (7.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG) vs. Eric Boateng (8.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG)

Backcourt

This should be fun. If we can all remember last year's soiree at the Staples Center in the Pac-10 Tournament, Derek Glasser and Venoy Overton were less than thrilled with each other throughout the ballgame which led to a minor fracas. Overton makes a living on being a pest and he is a great complement to the explosive Thomas for the Huskies. A key contributor off the bench will be Abdul Gaddy, the freshman phenom who is starting to get comfortable at the college level.

It's the same old story for the Sun Devils with Glasser and McMillan patrolling the top of the key on both ends. Glasser has remained steady in the early going and may need to pick up the scoring even more as the team is really struggling to find an offensive identity. McMillan's balanced play continues to be the most pleasant surprise of the season. Coming on in relief will be Walker, like Gaddy, another freshman starting to get into his rhythm.

Edge – Washington

Frontcourt

In his first few years on campus, Quincy Pondexter took a backseat to Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman and looked a bit overhyped early in his career but this year, as the top dog, Pondexter has been playing at an elite level and is the best big man in the Pac-10. With Pondexter will be Darnell Gant, a hard-nosed big man who does all the little things that a stat sheet won't tell you while Matthew Bryan-Amaning is another big man who has played well in his first season of heavy minutes.

The Devils counter with Kuksiks, Abbott, and Boateng. Kuksiks has been uncharacteristically streaky as of late which has been a prime reason for the team's offensive struggles. Abbott hasn't been as productive as expected but isn't playing poorly by any means. His shooting will need to pick up for his whole arsenal to be more effective. Boateng started off hot but has cooled considerably. He'll have his hands full with Pondexter and Bryan-Amaning. Trent Lockett and Victor Rudd will likely see good minutes in relief.

Edge – Washington

X-Factor

Zone defense. Ever since he arrived in Tempe and installed a matchup zone, Herb Sendek has given his team a chance to win almost every game if they can hit their shots. While it's easier to say than do when it comes to hitting their shots, the Devils should really focus their efforts on defense where they will be dealing with a strong interior presence as well an electric scorer in Thomas. The defensive effort will need to be excellent for a chance to win.

Who Will Win and Why

It's going to be tough for the Sun Devils to put enough points on the board to beat the Huskies. With a rotation that contains a lot of offensive power, the Huskies are considered the class of the Pac-10 this season and this will be a tough matchup for ASU. That being said, the Devils play well at home and they really need a W to put in the conference standings. All told, the Huskies will hit enough big shots to put the game away in the second half.

Prediction Washington 66 ASU 60


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