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January 10, 2010

Offense flows well in impressive win over WSU

What a difference a week makes.

After losing back-to-back games in Los Angles to open Pac-10 play, Arizona State responded by sweeping the Washington schools at home in impressive fashion, one-upping its double digit win over the Huskies Friday with a 71-46 throttling of Washington State Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Sun Devils (12-5; 1-1) gave each team its worst loss of the season and reinvigorated themselves with newfound offensive flow to match their typically stellar defense.

ASU went just 6-of-22 from 3-point range, where it typically needs to succeed in order to earn wins against quality opponents, but made 50.8 percent of its shots from the field due in large part to terrific ball movement and spacing, which led to frequent point-blank looks at the basket.

Twenty-two of the Sun Devils' 30 field goals were assisted baskets.

"We just tried to open it up, give ourselves a little bit more freedom, have more lanes to drive and kick really just create for each other instead of just standing around," junior guard Ty Abbott said after scoring a team-high 17 points.

"We've been working on this for about a week now, learned some things in southern California about ourselves and I think our guys have done a great job embracing some of the modifications we've made," coach Herb Sendek said. "It still comes down to the fundamentals -- dribbling, passing, shooting, cutting screening. That determines the fruitfulness of any offense."

After trailing 7-1 early, Sendek took a timeout and his team responded with a 16-0 run covering more than six minutes of action to make it a 17-7 game and the Sun Devils never trailed again.

"He was just, 'are you ready?' Abbott said, when asked what Sendek told them during the early timeout. "We came out a little flat and they were hitting their shots and we didn't really have a purpose and he said to play like we have a purpose and come together and start getting stops and play offense the way we know how to play offense."

Abbott made 7-of-15 shots from the field including 3-of-8 from behind the 3-point arc and he had 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. He also had four assists and no turnovers. Freshman Trent Lockett had 12 points in 20 minutes off the bench and senior Eric Boateng finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Once again though, it was on the defensive end where ASU established itself early, and that carried it throughout the afternoon. Washington State sophomore Klay Thompson entered the contest averaging a league-best 23.5 points, but was held to just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.

"It's pretty much what we do against anybody with a prolific scorer like him," Abbott said of the effort against Thompson. "We want to know where he is at all times. We communicate, if he's in the corner, we've got a guy saying, 'I have him in the corner' and wherever he moves we're trading him off and making sure we have a body on him."

All told, the Cougars (12-4; 2-2) made only 17-of-57 field goal attempts (29.8 percent) with no player finishing in double figures. Thompson's nine points were a team high and Reggie Moore and Marcus Capers had eight points apiece. and were out-rebounded 36-34.

The Sun Devils led by as much as 15 points in the first half, at 29-24, but Washington State used a 9-4 run to make it a single digit game at halftime, 33-25.

To start the second half, however, ASU scored the first two baskets and led by double digits the rest of the way, steadily extending the margin until nearly the game's final buzzer.


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