Arizona State’s overtime victory over Colorado kept the Sun Devils in contention for an NCAA tournament berth.
To remain in the tournament hunt, the Sun Devils must close out their season strong, and that starts with getting a win against the Washington State Cougars on Wednesday night.
The Sun Devils (19-7, 8-5 Pac-12) come into the game as the fourth ranked team in the conference. The Cougars (11-15, 2-11 Pac-12), on the other hand, are at the bottom of the barrel.
Out of the five remaining conference games for the Sun Devils, tonight’s game will be the only one against an opponent that is below .500.
However, that doesn’t mean that Washington State will go down easily. The Cougars are coming off of a 79-77 overtime loss against No. 23 Oregon.
The Cougars will also come into Wells Fargo Arena looking to end their six-game losing streak. The streak started on Jan. 31 when the Sun Devils beat the Cougars 63-59.
Keys to the game:
1. Get Bachynski going early – The last time these two teams faced, center Jordan Bachynski only had five points. The Sun Devils are a significantly better team when Bachynski carries more of the scoring load. The team has gone 5-1 in conference play when Bachynski scores in double-figures.
2. Let Evan Gordon take it to the hoop – It’s been clear throughout the season that Gordon has been a streaky shooter. It’s also clear that when the majority of his points come from the paint or mid-range jumpers, he shoots significantly better from the 3-point line. When Gordon is dominating on all facets of his offensive game, he can be a top-scorer. In five out of 13 conference games this season, Gordon has shot 45 percent from 3-point range while the majority of his points have come from the paint or mid-range. In the rest of the conference games, he’s averaged 31 percent shooting and taken most of his shots from beyond the arc.
3. Manage the shot clock – There’s been a trend as of late where the Sun Devils have relinquished late game leads because of poor shot clock management. This was apparent against California-Berkeley and Colorado. It’s understandable that the Sun Devils are trying to run down the clock and close the game out, but bad shot selection because of a lack of clock management is basically shooting themselves in the foot.
Matchup to watch:
Royce Woolridge vs. Evan Gordon
Woolridge led all Cougar scorers with 16 points the last time both teams faced off and is also coming off of his best performance this season, as he put up 36 points against Oregon last Saturday. Gordon is also coming off of a memorable performance, as he drained the game winning lay-up in Colorado as time expired. Both are extremely streaky shooters, and the one that has the hot hand will likely lead his team to victory.