Saturday, January 26, 2008

Devils Hit Crossroads

Tonight's game is a big one. Coming off of two straight losses, ASU needs a win against #6 Washington State before hitting the road for three tough games against USC, UCLA, and Arizona. Tonight is the start of the toughest four-game stretch of the season for the Devils, and the team must take advantage of the home court if post-season dreams are to become reality.

After a poor shooting night (a season low 32.1%) filled with turnovers against an unranked Washington team, ASU will face one of the toughest defenses in the country in Washington State. The Devils counter with a highly ranked defense of their own so expect this to be a low scoring game. The last matchup between these two teams ended with a 48-47 Cougar victory as a Christian Polk buzzer beater rolled around the rim before falling out. During that game, ASU held the Cougars to just 12 points in the second half. If ASU can regain the shooting touch we've seen all season, this game is very winnable.

In the last two losses, ASU has struggled in defending talented big men. Brook Lopez and Jon Brockman both burned ASU in the post. While Washington State is led by guards Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver, they still have capable big men Aron Baynes and Robbie Cowgill who are both 6'10". This could give ASU some match-up problems but I don't anticipate those two being the ones to beat us.

I think that this is a game that ASU should be able to win. I think that the Devils can bounce back from consecutive defeats and use a supportive home crowd to post another impressive victory on the schedule. Luckily for Sun Devil fans, coach Herb Sendek has 14 wins over top-10 ranked opponents. The success ASU has seen this year also follows the recipe laid out by Washington State's Tony Bennett last year. Excellent defense, great shot selection, and shooting free throws at a high percentage. This should be an interesting matchup as the Cougars are dominated by upperclassmen, while the Devils' youth is well documented. I think ASU can pull out a victory tonight before heading to L.A. for a tough twosome.

Tonight's game is at 5pm, televised on FSN and broadcast on 620AM.

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