Shooting perhaps was even a greater concern as WSU's second-leading scorer, junior guard Faisal Aden, was sidelined with a reoccurring left knee problem. Aden averages 14.6 points per game.
But it never was a problem this time as the Sun Devils (9-9, 1-5) were unable to contain junior center DeAngelo Casto. He converted 11 of 18 shots and scored a career-high 25 points.
"My teammates found a way to get me the ball," Casto said in a postgame radio interview. "I got some pretty easy looks."
Casto combined for just 11 points in a pair of losses against ASU last season. This time, he arguably played his best college game. In addition to his offensive production, Casto had four blocks. He now 136 in his career, which tied him with 1990s star Carlos Daniel for second in program history.
SOPHOMORE POINT GUARD Reggie Moore, who returned from after being suspended during the Cougars' 61-58 win Saturday at Stanford after marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges filed against him Jan. 4 by the Whitman County prosecutor's office, made 4 of 10 shots and finished with 11 points. WSU improved to 3-0 in Pac-10 home games as Moore averages 12.3 points in those contests.
That was more than enough support for junior wing Klay Thompson. His 3-pointer with 16 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the second half gave the Cougars a 50-38 lead and they led by double figures the rest of the game. Thompson, who converted 7 of 16 shots en route to 22 points, also tied his career-high with nine assists and eight rebounds. The last assist went to freshman point guard Dre' Winston Jr. for his first points in Pac-10 play.
"I liked the fact that we really shared the ball well," said Bone, whose team had 19 assists, in a postgame radio interview. "We really spread out their defense."
WSU also might have played its most complete game of the season. Despite 14-point wins against Oregon State and Oregon, the Cougars combined for 36 turnovers in those games.
Perhaps their only problem was containing seniors Ty Abbott and Rihards Kuksiks, who each had a trio of first-half 3-pointers, as a late first half run cut the Sun Devils' deficit to 41-31 at halftime. ASU, which entered the game converting a Pac-10 worst 29 percent on 3-pointers, was not nearly as successful when Bone switched his team's defense in the second half. Abbott finished with a team-high 16 points, but Kuksiks was held scoreless in the final 20 minutes and ended up with nine points.
"We felt like they kind of figured out our zone and picked it apart," Bone said. "We went to man and our guys did a nice job with that."
WSU now has defeated arguably the conference's three worst teams — Oregon State, Oregon and ASU — at home. But they will close out the first half of conference play Saturday against Arizona and next week versus Washington. Those two are considered by many as the Pac-10's best teams.
"Home court is always easier to play," Casto said. "Hopefully we can take that to Arizona."