GAME NOTES: The Arizona State Sun Devils will try to right the ship on Sunday, as they take on the Washington State Cougars in a Pac-12 Conference tilt at Wells Fargo Arena.
Washington State put forth the worst effort of any team in the league in Thursday's slate of conference openers. The Cougars managed to score only 25 points in a loss to No. 1 Arizona. The setback was the second in the last three games for Ken Bone's squad, which has the worst overall record in the Pac-12 (7-6) as well. The road doesn't get any easier, as the Cougars will face No. 20 Colorado next.
A puzzling effort from Arizona State led to a 76-65 loss to an eight-win Washington squad on Thursday. The loss ended a four-game win streak for the Sun Devils, who have flirted with the national rankings, but have suffered a number of questionable losses en route to an 11-3 overall mark. Next up is a trip to Los Angeles to battle USC and UCLA in consecutive games.
Arizona State pulled out wins in both meetings between these two squads last season, and has won four of the last five to jump ahead in the all-time series, 38-35.
It was clear which team was No. 1 on Thursday in the matchup between Washington State and Arizona. The Cougars connected on just 2-of-21 shots from the floor in the first half and went into the break, trailing 28-7. The second half was only marginally better, as the Cougars scored fewer than 30 points for the first time since an 81-29 loss to then No. 6 Oklahoma State in 2004.
Putting up points has been a challenge this season for Bone's team. The Cougars are at the bottom of the Pac-12 in scoring (67.2 ppg), as well as field goal percentage (.429) and assists (11.5 apg). DaVonte Lacy (18.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) has done all he can to keep the Cougars competitive on offense, but his efforts have been in vain, with only Royce Woolridge (10.3 ppg) also averaging in double figures. Lacy, who is fifth in the league in scoring, was unable to help on Thursday as he missed the contest recovering from an emergency appendectomy earlier in the week. His status is still uncertain.
The backcourt duo of Jahii Carson and Jermaine Marshall has normally been a real strength for Arizona State, but that was not the case against Washington, as the tandem combined to hit just 7-of-23 shots from the floor and accumulated more turnovers (four) than assists (three). The lack of efficiency at the guard position was noticeable, as the Sun Devils shot just 38.6 percent in the losing effort.
A return to form for both Carson (19 ppg, 5.1 apg) and Marshall (14.6 ppg) will be needed and should be expected on Sunday. Carson, a 5-foot-9 guard with explosive speed is fourth in the conference in scoring and also in the top-10 in assists. Marshall (14.6 ppg) isn't as versatile a contributor, but his ability to score has been vital. Jordan Bachynski (12.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 4.9 bpg) is most known for his ability to block shots, an area he leads the nation in. However, he has been a strong scorer and rebounder this season, with eight double-doubles, although only two in his last eight games.
Even if Arizona State struggles again, which is unlikely, with Lacy still a question mark, the Cougars aren't potent enough to pull off the upset.
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