Much like ASU, the Cougars are struggling a little bit as of late but a good little run would put them right back into the Pac-10 race. Two straight blowout losses on the road to UCLA and then Washington have left a sour taste in their mouths but Wazzu returns home where they have won nine of their eleven games. In their latest game, the Cougs lost by 28 to Washington as Klay Thompson was benched at the start of the game and proceed to score 7 points while shooting 2-15 from the field. Not a pretty day for the boys from Pullman.
G – Marcus Capers (7.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG) vs. Ty Abbott (11.5 PPG, 45% 3PT)
G – Nikola Koprivica (9.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG) vs. Trent Lockett (8.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG)
F – Klay Thompson (21.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG) vs. Rihards Kuksiks (12.8 PPG, 40% 3PT)
It's been weird to see the Cougars push the tempo this season now that a Bennett is running the show. Dick and Tony are gone and Ken Bone has come in and unleashed the offense. Moore is a solid young PG that has solid contributors surrounding him in Capers and Koprivica. Off the bench will be Abe Lodwick and Xavier Thames.
The Devils are having injury woes. Jamelle McMillan has been out with Plantar Fasciitis and his return is uncertain while Derek Glasser sprained his ankle during practice and could potentially miss some time. Aside from that possible disaster, there is Ty Abbott playing the best basketball of his career as Lockett is starting to break out as well. The very athletic Demetrius Walker gets the minutes off the bench and will play a lot more if Glasser and McMillan can't go.
Edge – ASU
The real meat and potatoes of the Wazzu offense is down low. The versatile Klay Thompson is the conference's best NBA prospect and DeAngelo Casto is a force to be reckoned with inside. Thompson struggled on his recent road trip shooting 14-47 from the floor with a 1:3 assist to turnover ratio so returning home couldn't come sooner.
Some recent rumors surrounding a possible Rihards Kuksiks departure after the season have been troubling but he still remains the most dangerous shooter that ASU has and if he can get warm, the Devils have a chance to win in a hostile environment. Down low, Casto will have to deal with the maddeningly inconsistent Eric Boateng. He has been quieter than an American submarine in Russian waters at times but then he will go off for 19 and 13 against Cal and almost led the team back from a huge deficit. Boateng needs to be productive for ASU to succeed and as the team embarks on their biggest weekend of the year, some solid play from big #2 is essential.
Edge – Wazzu
As I just mentioned, Eric Boateng is it. He needs to command the ball down-low and get Casto into foul trouble. The Cougars are one of the few teams that are actually thinner than ASU in the post. When EB can score at will down low, the offense opens up and the Devils get a ton more open looks.
Who Will Win and Why
Winning on the road is always very tough for ASU and this is no different. Glasser should be fine and McMillan will hopefully be back. If those two ring true – the Devils are in business. Abbott should remain hot and Kuksiks will hit his shots. Thompson will get his but if ASU can hold the rest of the team down, it will be good for the Devils.
ASU 68 Wazzu 63