"That has a lot to do with some of the defense that we are playing in the last few games. Our guys came out with focus and purpose and really set the tone on the defensive end. They understand that for us to have a chance we need to play good defense."
The start of the game was certainly not a sign of things to come, as Washington State (12-4, 2-2 Pac-10) jumped to a 7-1 lead after just three minutes of play. Arizona State (12-5, 2-2) in large part behind solid play on both ends of the court by Ty Abbott, went on a 10-0 run to claim a 17-7 advantage at the 11:04 mark. It was a lead that they would never relinquish the rest of the game.
The hosts had 33-25 lead at the half. The Cougars continued to struggle on defense in the second stanza, while ASU was shooting at a 56.3 percent clip during that period and led by as many as 19 points.
Abbott paced all scorers with 17 points and recorded his first career double-double, as he tallied another career-high of 11 rebounds. Trent Lockett had 11 points off the bench. Eric Boateng shook off a slow start and was one carom short of his own double-double with 11 points and nine boards.
While as expected the leading scorer for Washington State was Klay Thompson, he scored just nine points which is well below his 23.8 average coming into today. Furthermore, he was held without a field goal for nearly the last 24 minutes of the contest.
"He's such a great player," Sendek said of Thompson. "He comes in here as the third leading scorer in the nation. He's such a smart player – he really knows how to play. You have to have awareness and play well (against him).
"The other thing is that he missed some that on another night he would make. So that old adage is true: Things are rarely as bad or as good as they seem."
The Sun Devil skipper stated that his team "learned some things" in Los Angeles, following a 0-2 start to conference play. In some ways, the slate in marked clean with a sweep of the Washington schools. Next for ASU, is a visit to the Oregon Ducks this Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled at 6:30 pm MT.
"I really like how our guys responded last week," Sendek said. "But once again, this is one segment, one week, two games, and the next game is almost ready to start."