Arizona State basketball will face an angry and frustrated University of Washington team on Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. The Huskies are licking their wounds after a 70-52 thrashing by the Arizona Wildcats on Wednesday night.
Under these circumstances, the “Dawgs” could be a dangerous foe for the upstart Sun Devils (20-7, 9-5 Pac-12), who are in the hunt for their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2009.
Against Arizona, Washington (14-13, 6-8 Pac-12) had a season-low in points scored, shooting just 30 percent while making 1 of 11 from 3-point range. Leading scorer C.J. Wilcox put up 15 points, but had to work hard to get them; he hit only 1 of 6 from 3-point range. Senior guard Abdul Gaddy added 12 points for the Huskies, who never threatened the lead after Arizona went up eight at halftime.
“In the second half, we played with a lack of pride,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Most of the time we go out there and compete. In the first half, I thought we competed, but in the second half we lost our competition.”
Forward Desmond Simmons was more diplomatic in assessing the Husky’s performance: “We just got knocked down bad, but we need to get back up. We can’t have a pity party. This was embarrassing, but we can’t point fingers.”
Aside from the Arizona game, Washington has not lacked offensive firepower this season. Wilcox leads the team in scoring at nearly 18 points per game. Gaddy, Scott Suggs and Aziz N’Diaye also average in double figures. N’Diaye is recognized as one of the better rebounders in the Pac-12 conference.
Washington’s topsy-turvy season has been a source of frustration for Seattle area fans. Perhaps it all started with an uncomfortably close 10-point win over Division II Western Washington University. The Huskies then rebounded by winning their first four conference games, including three straight on the road. The team subsequently suffered four straight losses, including at home to Utah. Its first loss to Arizona was very competitive, but that was at home, in a friendly environment.
Arizona State’s Feb. 2 meeting with Washington in Seattle ended in a 96-92 defeat for the Sun Devils. Freshman guard Jahii Carson had 32 points on 13-of-19 shooting and ASU shot .638 from the field, but the Huskies had a 36-20 rebounding advantage and scored 50 points in the paint.
“We got crushed inside,” recalled ASU coach Herb Sendek. “Obviously we gave up 50 points in a variety of ways: low post, transition, offensive rebounds and cutters off of back screens. Certainly, the rebounding was very problematic for us. We really got destroyed on the backboards. And we got beat in 50-50 balls. So despite doing a number of good things on offense, it was negated by those kinds of things on defense. Jahii (Carson) was sensational. Jon Gilling made a number of big threes for us. Guys fought back hard and had a chance to win at the end. But again, offensive rebound, putback, and one was the final dagger.”
Saturday will mark a new chapter in the ASU-Washington series. Tip-off is at 9 pm MT.