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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

January 30, 2009 at 10:27 PM

Keys to the game — Arizona State

Here’s a breakdown of tomorrow’s showdown in Tempe with the Sun Devils.
Records: Washington 15-5, 6-2; Arizona State 16-4, 5-3. Where: Wells Fargo Arena (13,947). Time: 2:30 p.m. TV: FSN NW Radio: KJR-AM
No. 1: Contain James Harden — UW coach Lorenzo Romar said today that Harden “is one of the toughest matchups, if not the toughest, in the league, he’s so multi-dimensional.” At 6-5, 218, Harden is strong enough to get into the paint when he wants. But he’s also become a pretty good outside shooter, and he not only leads the Pac-10 in scoring at 22.2 but is eighth in assists at 4.1. UW won’t stop him, but the Huskies need to keep him under control. Romar says it will be a team effort, but Quincy Pondexter could get the first crack at defending him and Justin Holiday also could get his chances, his size making him a good matchup.
No. 2: Close out on the three-point shooters — ASU has really struggled to shoot of late. Still, the three-pointer is a key part of Arizona State’s game — its 439 attempts from three are 32 more than any other Pac-10 team. And despite a recent slump, ASU is still fourth in percentage at 36.4. UW left shooters open too often at Arizona but can’t do that against the Devils. The Huskies really need to make sure that complementary players such as Ty Abbott and Rihards Kuksiks — each struggling of late — don’t suddenly find their stroke tomorrow.
No. 3: Dominate the boards — It’s not a reason for worry, really. But it’s worth noting that UW hasn’t been quite as dominant on the boards of late, outrebounding USC by two, UCLA by three and ASU by two, numbers down from Washington’s overall rebounding margin of plus-10.2 for the season. But UW should have a bigger edge today as ASU ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in rebounding, though it does have one of the better board men in the league in Jeff Pendergraph, fourth at 7.6 (Harden is also a good rebounder with 5.6 per game).
No. 4: Practice patience on offense — ASU has sped up a bit as its talent has gotten better, but the Sun Devils still play pretty deliberately on both ends of the floor, and its zone defense will force the Huskies to have to execute on offense and will likely limit easy chances. After cutting down on turnovers a bit, UW has averaged 16 over the last three games. Considering the pace of this game figures to be slower, that many today could be a killer.
No. 5: Run when it’s there —- All of that in No. 4 noted, one of UW’s biggest advantages today is its greater depth — ASU got all but six minutes from just six players in its game against WSU Thursday night. UW needs to keep the pace up as much as it can to try to wear the Devils down.

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