Getting Defensive Again

After a listless start to this month, Washington State's defense is once again playing at a high level. Meanwhile, guards Taylor Rochestie and Derrick Low have been instrumental to the team's turnaround on the offensive end.

Rochestie and Low look to lead the 17th-ranked Cougars to their fourth straight victory when they host Arizona State on Thursday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Washington State –10 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 66% of bets for this game have been placed on Arizona State +10 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Washington State (20-5, 8-5 Pac-10) was ranked sixth in the nation when it defeated the then-No. 24 Sun Devils 56-55 on Jan. 26. Rochestie had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists, Low had 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point range and the swarming Cougars defense came up with two big stops in the final minute.

After escaping Tempe with a one-point victory, however, Washington State went on to lose its next three games to fall to No. 21.

The Cougars have been steadily climbing back up the rankings, and their 62-53 win at Oregon on Saturday moved them up four spots in the latest AP poll.

Washington State has the third-ranked scoring defense in the nation, allowing 55.5 points per game, and it held the high-powered Ducks nearly 25 points below their season average.

"You've got to run your offense really well (against them)," Oregon's Maarty Leunen said. "They force you to shoot perimeter shots and play smart in the offense."

Washington State is allowing an average of 53.3 points during its winning streak after giving up an average of 67.7 points during its slide.

On Saturday, Rochestie scored 21 points, Low added 16 and each went 4-of-8 from 3-point range.

Rochestie is averaging 19.3 points and shooting 9-of-19 from 3-point range in his last three games after averaging 9.3 points and making only three 3-pointers in his previous three.

Low is averaging 15.7 points and has gone 8-of-18 from beyond the arc in his last three games after averaging 10.3 points while shooting 3-of-20 from 3-point range during the skid. In his last two home games against Arizona State, Low has scored 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting.

The Cougars have won three straight over the Sun Devils (16-8, 6-6) and seven of the last nine meetings. Washington State also has won four in a row over Arizona State at Friel Court since an 87-54 loss on Feb. 6, 2003.

After defeating then-No. 7 Stanford 72-68 in overtime last Thursday, the Sun Devils fell to California 76-73 on Saturday as their furious rally came up just short.

Arizona State hit seven 3-pointers in the final 1:07, cutting the Golden Bears' lead from 11 to 3, but could get no closer. The Sun Devils matched the school record with 16 total 3s.

"We quite simply did not have the requisite energy level that is necessary to win in the Pac-10 today," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said.

Ty Abbott had a career-high 30 points, going 8-of-13 from 3-point range, after scoring just 11 points on 4-of-22 shooting in his previous four games combined.

Abbott had 13 points against the Cougars earlier this season while fellow freshman James Harden led the team with 25 points.

Harden, averaging a team-high 18.0 points, had 23 points against Stanford but was held to 11 on 3-of-10 shooting versus Cal.

The Sun Devils have split their four games against ranked opponents this season, but have lost 17 straight against Top 25 teams on the road since a 69-68 win over then-No. 20 UCLA on Feb. 16, 2002.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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