Men’s hoops looks for different results at WSU this season

The last thing the ASU men’s basketball team needs is a repeat of last season’s trip to Pullman, Wash.

The Sun Devils (16-4, 5-2 Pac-12) scored eight points in the first half as the Cougars won 72-50. Senior forward Brock Motum dropped 16 points in 28 minutes.

ASU looks to maintain its recent success this season when it faces Washington State Thursday, unlike last year.

“We just got beat bad by their whole team on their court,” sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling said. “We know it’s a hard place to play on their home court, but I think we’re prepared.”

Head coach Herb Sendek said the Sun Devils are a completely different team this season.

They’re coming off a big win over UCLA, and senior wing Carrick Felix won Pac-12 Player of the Week for a third time this season.

Felix commented on winning the award for the third time.

“It’s definitely cool to have, but my ultimate goal at the end of the day is to get something for my team that we can have forever, and that’s a Pac-12 Championship,” Felix said.

The Sun Devils are No. 4 in the Pac-12 behind Oregon, UCLA and Arizona. The Cougars are No. 9, and they’re off to a slow start in conference play.

There’s still talent on this team led by Motum and senior guard Mike Ladd. They’re the only two players averaging double digits in points and six boards a game. Motum averages 18.8 points and 6.6 rebounds a game, and Ladd has 11.8 points and six rebounds a game. They account for nearly half of the Cougars’ scoring and a third of their rebounds.

“It’s definitely two key guys we have to shut down,” Gilling said.

The Cougars are still a tough team at home. They’re 8-3 this season with their only home losses coming from Kansas, Gonzaga and Washington. Two of those three teams were ranked entering the contest.

“We have a lot of basketball left to play,” Sendek said. “There’s no easy game on our schedule. We face one helluva challenge this weekend on the road in the Northwest. Make no mistake about it. There’s nothing easy about either one of these games and we’re going to have to be really, really good to win.”

Gilling and Felix are expecting the Cougars to try and slow them down on offense.

Gilling compared the Cougars to the Utah Utes, a bottom feeding Pac-12 team that ASU beat by a point in overtime at home.

“Just run our plays all the way through,” Felix said. “That’s something we need to get back at and that’s something you saw against UCLA. We played fast that game but there were times we got in the half court, ran some plays and just executed.”

Senior guard Chris Colvin is set to return Thursday after serving a three-game suspension, which will create depth for ASU at guard. He was suspended two weeks ago for violating team rules.

Tip-off is at 9 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network and 620 AM.

 

Reach the reporter at mtesfats@asu.edu