Defense and rebounding pace Devils in WSU win

After redeeming themselves with their win against Washington, the Sun Devils continued their good play Sunday afternoon with a 71-46 win against the Washington State Cougars. Despite the apparent lopsided score, ASU found itself in a hole early in the contest.

ASU fell behind early 7-1 with playing sloppy on both ends of the floor, but once they gained they lead they never looked back due to strong defense and rebounding.

"We came out a little flat," said Ty Abbott, "and they were hitting their shots, and we didn't really have a purpose so he (Sendek) said ‘find a purpose, come together, and start getting stops, and play offense the way we know how to play offense."

Abbott ended the game with 17 points, four assists, two steals, and a career high 11 rebounds.

"I think I got five quick ones in the first six minutes and that just kind of got me started and guys on the bench kept getting on me," Abbott declared, "and I think it was 8 at the half, and they were telling me if I didn't get two they weren't going to talk to me anymore so I had to do it."

The Sun Devils did an especially good job against the Cougars' leading scorer, Klay Thompson who was held to just nine points on 3 of 11 shooting after spending most of the first half in foul trouble.

"It's pretty much what we do against a proven scorer," Abbott acknowledged, "We want to know where he is at all times. We communicate, if he's in the corners we've got a guy saying ‘I have him in the corner,' and wherever he moves we're trading him off and making sure we have a body on him.

"I wouldn't say it was harder (to guard a perimeter scorer). It's kind of different because with a guy like Quincy who is flashing from behind you, you don't really see him at all times but with Klay, he's coming off a stagger screen, so you have to figure out if he's gonna come curl or if he's going to step flat, so you have to really be on top of your game."

The Sun Devils were only credited with 8 fast break points, but they seemed to push the ball on every opportunity they had whether it was off of a turnover, a miss, or even a made shot.

"We just tried to give it up and give ourselves a little bit more freedom," Abbott mentioned, "have more lanes to drive and kick, and really create for each other instead of just standing around."

Freshman Trent Lockett had another solid game with 12 points, two rebounds on 5 of 7 shooting, but it's his defense that makes him most valuable to his team.

"I think on every level, defense is the main part of basketball," Lockett pointed out, "so coming into the next level, college basketball I knew I was going to have to help contribute on the defensive end of the floor, but no one specifically pulled me aside and told me how hard it was going to be, but I think this weekend we showed we can really hold teams down on the defensive end."

Lockett struggled through a stretch after starting the year off strong, but Lockett feels like his struggles are mostly behind him.

"I think I just didn't bring the intensity I needed to each game," Lockett said, "I got a little comfortable, but everybody goes through ups and downs their freshman year and I think I got out of my little slump and I'm back, and ready to help the team."

Next up for ASU is a road trip to the Oregon schools, and the team has a different mentality than it did a week ago. It is now brimming with confidence after Sunday's win ad a sweep of the Washington schools.

"(Our confidence is) pretty high right now," Abbott stated, "I'm not gonna say that we feel like we're going to go out and beat everybody, but after what happened last week, and to come back and get two good wins against two good teams, you can't help but feel good and be ready to build on what we've put out right now."


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