Washington State travels to Tempe look for their fifth straight split of a Pac-10 weekend series (not counting UW). Arizona State has struggled mightily in the conference schedule and sits in last place with a 1-12 record.
When Arizona State has the ball...
The Cougs stifled ASU inside the the arc last meeting, allowing them to shoot just 31.2% on two-pointers. Arizona State countered by bombing away from three, taking 29 shots from deep. They hit 34.9% of those and that is a big reason why they weren't totally blown out of the water in Pullman. The three point shooting poses the biggest threat for WSU, as it is something they have struggled mightily against in the Pac-10.
Overall, the Sun Devils are not a very good shooting team. They are 7th in the conference in eFG% during conference play. They do themselves no favors at the free throw line, where they are hitting just 59.7% against Pac-10 teams.
Trent Lockett is ASU's most important offensive player. He uses the most possessions, is third on the team in efficiency, and first in free throw rate among those who play significant minutes. However, WSU was able to shut down Lockett in Pullman largely because he relies heavily on two-point shots for his offense. He has taken just twenty threes all year. The Sun Devils will likely need a big effort from someone on the outside to pull the upset here.
Ty Abbott and Rihard Kuksiks present the biggest challenge from the three-point line. They both shoot 39% from out there, and the Cougs have given up huge runs by the other team on the back of the three-point shot time and time again this year. Keep an eye on those two today, if they are hitting it could lead to a long night for Wazzu.
One big positive for WSU is that the Sun Devils are a terrible rebounding team. They are last in OR% in Pac-10 play, and it really wasn't a factor in their first meeting. Freshman forward Kyle Cain is the only player on ASU who can be categorized as a good offensive rebounder.
When WSU has the ball....
Washington State was able to come through with one of their better offensive performances in a while against Arizona on Thursday, and that was just an average performance. Today could be a day that they come through with an above average performance based on the match-up. The last time WSU had an excellent offensive game was when these two teams met in Pullman.
Arizona State is near the bottom in the conference in 2-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot 50.7% in conference play. This bodes well for WSU because they have relied heavily on the two-point shot for offensive effectiveness. WSU was able to post a 59.5 eFG% in their last meeting and that was a big key to their 118.4 ORtg. Klay Thompson's height advantage over ASU's smaller guards may be big there.
ASU's biggest weakness is probably their defensive rebounding, but the Cougs do not possess the ability to exploit that. WSU grabbed only 31.4% of available offensive rebounds in Pullman, well below the Sun Devils' conference average of 36.8%.
The keys to this match-up appear to be ASU's three-point shooting and WSU's two-point shooting. If the Sun Devils can have something close to what Stanford did from beyond the arc, they have an excellent chance to send the Cougs home 0-2 in Arizona. If WSU can dominate the inside of the arc, they may be able to be efficient enough on offense to overcome any sort of barrage that the Sun Devils throw at them.