Arizona St.-Washington Preview
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was not pleased with Isaiah
Thomas’ play heading into last season’s home game against Arizona
State. That definitely isn’t the case as his team prepares for this
year’s matchup in Seattle.
Thomas and the 20th-ranked Huskies continue their push for a
Pac-10 title on Saturday when they face the Sun Devils.
Romar benched Thomas for stretches of an 81-75 victory over
Arizona on Feb. 4 for doing a poor job running the offense, but the
5-foot-9 guard came out two days later and scored 17 points with
seven assists to lift host Washington to a 79-56 win over the Sun
Thomas enters this contest following a pair of brilliant
performances. After scoring a season-high 27 points with a
career-best 13 assists in Sunday’s 92-71 win at California, the
junior had 22 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in an 85-68
victory against Arizona on Thursday that gave Washington (14-4,
6-1) sole possession of first place in the league.
The Huskies hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Wildcats and
“Isaiah Thomas, it’s not even close, there’s not one player in
the country who’s more disrespected across the nation than him. Not
one. It’s not even close,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
“If he’s not one of the top four or five point guards in the
country, then I’m going to tell you I want to invite these guys who
vote to come and watch film.”
Thomas ranks third in the Pac-10 with 16.8 points per game and
is averaging a league-best 5.7 assists. With point guard Abdul
Gaddy out the rest of the season with an ACL injury, Thomas’ one
turnover against Arizona was exactly the kind of ball control Romar
wants to see from his star guard.
“We’ll take that,” the Huskies coach said.
Thomas could put up more big numbers the way the Sun Devils are
struggling defensively. Arizona State ranks in the top 5 in the
Pac-10 with 64.3 points allowed per game and field goal defense at
41.6 percent, but coach Herb Sendek’s team is allowing 79.0 points
per game on 49.5 percent shooting while losing two straight on the
The Sun Devils (9-9, 1-5), tied with Oregon for last place in
the conference, missed 19 of 29 3-point attempts and shot a
season-worst 32.8 percent from the field in Thursday’s 78-61 loss
at Washington State.
Senior guard Ty Abbott, who leads Arizona State with 13.5 points
per game, scored 16 and Seattle native Jamelle McMillan had 10.
The Huskies have held their opponents to 38.5 percent shooting
while winning their three Pac-10 home games by an average of 22.0
Washington seniors Justin Holiday and Matthew Bryan-Amaning will
have to keep an eye on Rihards Kuksiks. With three 3s against the
Cougars, the senior forward improved to 9 of 20 from long range
over the last four games and moved into ninth place all-time in
Pac-10 history with 253 3-pointers.
Kuksiks hit five shots from beyond the arc and matched a career
high with 27 points as the Sun Devils snapped a six-game home
losing streak to Washington last season.
The Huskies, winners of 17 of 19 at home in league play, lead
the conference in 3-point shooting at 39.9 percent.
Arizona State leads the all-time series 36-34 but has dropped 14
of the last 17 meetings.