by Craig Yamada
Who: #20 Washington (14-4, 6-1) vs. Arizona St. (9-9, 1-5)
Where: Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Ed
When: 1 PM
Coming off the biggest win of UW’s season, the Huskies will look to complete the sweep against the Arizona schools as they face off against ASU on Saturday afternoon. The Dawgs are riding a title wave of momentum coming off two superb performances at Cal and against Arizona at home. The Big 3 have put together back to back stellar performances and will need another to keep the ball rolling against ASU.
The Devils on the other hands have dropped 5 of their last 7 and only have a win against last place Oregon in the Pac 10. They have been battling nagging injuries all season with Lockett and McMillan. They are now fully healthy and eager to get out of last place in the Pac-10.
ASU 101: Herb Sendek squads have proven to give the Dawgs fits over the last few seasons as they are known to be solid defensive teams. The Sun Devils have been in contention for the Pac-10 title the last two seasons, however the 2010 season has started a bit different for them. They have opened in the season 1-5 in the Pac-10 and have been struggling to stay afloat in this young season. With the departure of Eric Boateng and Derek Glasser last year, ASU had to reload with some fresh faces. They are headlined by returning veteran guard Ty Abbott who is averaging 13.5 ppg on the season. Abbott was a candidate for Pac 10 player of the year last year, but has failed to carry that same impact in 2010. He is shooting 40% from beyond the arc and will need to be kept in check by UW guards. Trent Lockett is back from injury and stepping up his point production from last year. He is averaging 13.3 ppg and is the team’s second leading rebounder. Rihards Kuksiks is no stranger to the Huskies as he lit up the Dawgs at ASU last year. Of course that was without UW’s Justin Holiday. The following game at home, the Huskies disposed of them by 23 points. Kuksiks continues to be one of ASU’s best 3 point weapons and Holiday will need to be in his pocket to keep him honest beyond the arc. He is averaging 9.4 ppg, which is third on his team in terms of scoring. Nate’s son, Jamelle McMillan, has taken over PG duties for the Devils and is finally healthy. He is averaging 6.2 ppg. Rounding out their starting line up is sophomore 7 footer Ruslan Pateev. Pateev has shown to be a bit raw on the offensive end, much like Aziz. He is there to take up space in their match up zone and helps guard the rim. He is averaging 3 ppg and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Much like UW did before Abdul Gaddy got injured, ASU runs a 10 man rotation each game. Sometimes they play more than 10, but given their injuries of late, they have stuck with 10. Each player off of their bench plays around 16-17 minutes per game on average. Perhaps their most athletic player on the team, Carrick Felix, sat out against WSU without an injury. It is still unknown if the Duke de-commit will play against the Huskies. On the season, he had cracked the starting lineup before his injury and was averaging 5.6 ppg.
UW Update: UW will roll with the same starting lineup on Saturday with Suggs in the starting lineup.
UW wins if:
- They win the offensive glass: ASU is the worst rebounding team in the conference. Second chance opportunities will be plentiful in this game if UW can get to the rack.
- UW takes care of the ball: With 14 turnovers against Arizona, Romar cannot be happy about his team’s ability to hold on to the ball. UW will need to limit their TO’s to under 10 against a scrappy Sendek matchup zone. UW and ASU are near identical in their turnovers per game.
- The Big 3 step up big again: If Thomas, Holiday and MBA repeat the same production as they did against Zona and Cal, they will be impossible to beat.
- IT penetrates: Expect another big game from IT in terms of assists. He will be looking to break down ASU’s match up zone all afternoon and dish to open players. Holiday should also look to get the ball in the high post to collapse their defense.
Game Prediction: UW and ASU will remain somewhat close in the first 10 minutes. Look for UW’s depth to get the better of ASU by halftime. Dawgs run away with this one in the second half 93-74.