GAMES NOTES: In search of their first 20-win season since 2010 the Arizona State Sun Devils will host the Washington State Cougars in a Pac-12 Conference tilt at Wells Fargo Arena.
The 20-win plateau is more than likely out of Washington State's reach this season as the Cougars enter this contest with an 11-15 overall record with just five regular season games left on the schedule. The Cougars nearly pulled off an upset against No. 23 Oregon this past Saturday but fell, 79-77, in overtime. It was the sixth straight defeat for the Cougars who are alone in last place in the Pac-12 standings at 2-11 against conference foes. This bout begins a three-game road trip for the Cougars that continues against No. 12 Arizona.
Arizona State was also involved in an overtime scuffle last time out against Colorado. Thanks to an Evan Gordon buzzer beating layup though, the Sun Devils came out on top, 63-62, to put an end to a two-game slide. Arizona State is now 19-7 overall this season as it takes aim at reaching 20 wins for the first time since a three-year streak from 2007-2010. In terms of the league standings, Arizona State is tied with California for fourth (8-5), while just two games back from conference-leading Oregon. In Tempe, where they continue against Washington on Saturday, the Sun Devils have posted 14 wins in 17 tries.
After these teams split the season series a year ago, Arizona State took home a 63-59 victory in Beasley Coliseum in the first matchup of this campaign. The victory was the third in the last four meetings for the Sun Devils who have a slim, 37-35, lead in the all-time series.
Despite a career-high 36 points from Royce Woolridge the Cougars couldn't hold on to a 38-27 halftime lead against Oregon and eventually succumbed in overtime. The Cougars led by as many as 18 points in the first half but found themselves down five with 28 seconds left in regulation. A pair of Brock Motum free throws and a 3-pointer from DaVonte Lacy allowed the Cougars to force overtime. The two squads were knotted at 77-77 with seven seconds remaining when Oregon's E.J. Singler was fouled and knocked down the winning free throws.
Though they needed overtime to do it, the 77 points the Cougars scored against Oregon was the most they have put up against a Pac-12 team this season and the most since an 88-69 win over Eastern Washington in early November. Normally Washington State has been a severely weak offensive squad putting in the fewest points per game (64.2) in the conference while shooting the second- worst percentage from the field (.422). The Cougars also rank at the bottom of the league in rebounding (33.8 pg). Brock Motum (17.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) consistently finds himself in double figures as the third-best scorer in the conference. Mike Ladd (11.4 ppg) is the second-best scorer on the squad but with the 6-foot-5 guard listed as questionable with a left knee issue Woolridge (9.8 ppg) and DaVonte Lacy (10.4 ppg) may have to pick up the slack.
In a game that featured 11 ties and 14 lead changes, Arizona State got the last laugh on Gordon's layup against Colorado. The game-winner came just seven seconds after Colorado's Spencer Dinwiddie hit a clutch shot of his own. In the game, the Sun Devils had three more field goals than the Buffaloes, but they were outscored 16-10 from the free-throw line.
Arizona State has not folded in pressure-packed situations this season with a record of 10-2 against Pac-12 contests decided by 10 points or fewer. Leading the offensive charge is star freshman Jahii Carson (17.7 ppg, 4.9 apg) who has obliterated most of the school records for rookies while ranking in the top five in the conference in points and assists. Gordon (11.2 ppg) has picked up his play of late, averaging 14.1 points per game over the last 10 contests, while Carrick Felix (14.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg) has shown versatility as a fantastic two-way player. Jordan Bachynski (9.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.8 bpg) is a defensive anchor with his ability to protect the rim.
Although not an offensive juggernaut, the amount of skill the Sun Devils have in their starting five gives them a big leg up on the Cougars, especially if Ladd is sidelined.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona State 68, Washington State 60
02/20 11:02:18 ET
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