It’s funny looking back and calculating the scores from Thursday’s Guess the UW Score contest. No one had a clue about that game, myself included.
Almost half of those who entered the contest picked Arizona to win, but no one predicted both teams would struggle as much as they did on the offensive end. The Wildcats came away victors in a 57-53 defensive battle.
Congratulations to the engineer who guessed Arizona would claim a 69-53 victory. Nice job.
It looks as if you’re new to the blog so here’s the deal. Contact me via twitter or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to claim your prize, which is a hot dog and soft drink at a UW game.
OK, let’s move on.
Colorado (14-6, 4-4) at Utah (9-11, 1-7), 11:30 a.m. …………………………… FSN/ROOT
No. 10 Oregon (18-3, 7-1) at California (12-8, 4-4), 1:30 p.m. ……………… FSN/ROOT
Arizona State (17-4, 6-2) at Washington (12-9, 4-4), 6 p.m. ………………… ESPNU
No. 8 Arizona (18-2, 6-2) at Washington State (11-10, 2-6), 7 p.m. ………. P12N
AND THE UW-ASU WINNER IS …
— The Sun Devils 67-62.
Washington is a 5 1/2-point favorite and most prognosticators are going with the Huskies for what might be considered out-dated reasons.
Still it’s no denying Washington has owned Arizona State over the past decade. Since 2004, the Huskies are 18-3 against the Sun Devils, including a five-game winning streak that began in 2010. The last time ASU won in Seattle was 2003.
However, there’s a pair of more immediate streaks that could play a role in tonight’s outcome.
Washington has lost four in a row while ASU has won three in a row.
The national media is slowing recognizing what’s happening with the Sun Devils, who began the season with low expectations.
They plowed through a relatively easy non-conference schedule and folks like to take shots at them because they’ve struggled to beat lowly Utah (55-54 OT) and USC (98-93 OT). To be fair, the Pac-12 schedule has been favorable to ASU, which played five of its first seven games at home against teams in the bottom half of the conference.
But here’s the deal, the Sun Devils have lost just four games this season and three have been against teams that are currently ranked – No. 8 Oregon, No. 10 Arizona and No. 21 Creighton.
They’ve won high-scoring games in the 90s and low-scoring games in the 50s. They’ve beaten up good teams like UCLA with 7-2 center Jordan Bachynski. And they’ve relied on emerging stars Carrick Felix and Jahii Carson to lead second-half comebacks against Colorado and Washington State, respectively.
And the Sun Devils don’t make many mistakes, averaging just 12.4 turnovers which is the third fewest in the Pac-12.
ASU relies heavily on its starters who log heavy minutes. Four players average at least 32 minutes.
You’d think that type of workload would make the Sun Devils susceptible to an off performance less than 48 hours after playing Thursday at Pullman. They haven’t swept the Washington schools since 2003.
In past years, the Huskies would use their speed and depth to run ASU ragged. But UW is different this year. In fact, ASU plays at a faster pace. The Sun Devils also appears to have more athleticism than the Huskies for the first time since former ASU star James Harden played in 2009.
On paper, Washington appears to have few matchup advantages.
One of the most intriguing battles will take place in the post between 7-0 center Aziz N’Diaye and Bachynski. Get your popcorn ready for that one.
Expect Felix to follow C.J. Wilcox wherever he goes. He’s the only ASU player with the height (6-6), size and athleticism to bother the UW junior who averages 18.6 points but was held to 11 points on Thursday by Arizona’s Nick Johnson.
It will be interesting to see who Washington assigns to Carson, a 5-10, point guard who is quick, crafty and explosive. Coach Lorenzo Romar compared Carson as a mix between former UW stars Isaiah Thomas and Nate Robinson.
Washington should have a size advantage at power forward and on the wing.
Shawn Kemp Jr., a 6-9 and 255-pound sophomore, looks as if he’ll pair against 6-7 and 215-pound Jonathan Gilling. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if 6-7 Desmond Simmons returns to the starting lineup in place of Kemp because he’s more apt to stay with Gilling, who leads ASU with 134 three-point attempts.
It looks as if the weak link in ASU’s lineup is 6-1 Evan Gordon, who will surrender five inches to Scott Suggs (6-6). It remains to be seen if the Huskies will be able to exploit the matchup. Suggs has been solid and consistent while scoring at least 11 points in the past five games.
Still, Washington might need another breakout performance from the fifth-year guard whose career high is 24 points.
“Since Scott Suggs has been here, he’s never shot below 40 percent,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “I know the games are winding down, the season is winding down, but I can’t help but think Scott is going to start making baskets with more regularity and I think that’s going to help our team.”
Suggs is shooting 39.4 percent from the field. He redshirted last season and shot 48.5 percent as a junior in 2010-11, 38.3 percent as a sophomore and 50.0 percent as a freshman.