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ASU men's basketball focused on righting ship against Washington

The Sun Devil backcourt prepares for Washington's star guard Markelle Fultz

ASU junior guard Shannon Evans II (11) high-fives senior guard Torian Graham (4) after a big play in the first half of a men's basketball game against the UNLV Runnin' Rebels in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. ASU won 97-73, putting them at 5-3 on the season.
ASU junior guard Shannon Evans II (11) high-fives senior guard Torian Graham (4) after a big play in the first half of a men's basketball game against the UNLV Runnin' Rebels in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. ASU won 97-73, putting them at 5-3 on the season.

With the toughest three-game conference stretch of the season under its belt, ASU men's basketball returns home for what appears to be an easier set of games.

But looks can be deceiving. The Washington Huskies, who travel to Wells Fargo Arena Wednesday, sit at 9-10 with losses coming at the hands of teams like Yale and TCU.

What the Huskies have though, is the likely number one pick in the 2017 NBA Draft in freshman guard Markelle Fultz.

No stranger to great collegiate point guard play, ASU coach Bobby Hurley said he's among the best in the country.

"He's a complete guard," Hurley said. "Great size, very fluid with the ball, great decision-making."

Due to Fultz's volume scoring, Washington sits at fourth in the Pac-12 in points per game as a team – 0.2 points per contest behind the homestanding Sun Devils.

With so much scoring on the floor, Hurley anticipates an offensive game, meaning ASU is less likely to utilize its short rotation like it against USC Sunday, in which the Sun Devil bench did not attempt a shot.

"We're going to have to be ready to play 40 minutes," Hurley said. "That being said, we're going to need contributions from our bench and production and minutes from our bench."

The Husky offense runs through and around Fultz's ability to score, making containing him important for a Sun Devil defense. This season alone, the Sun Devils have been no stranger to elite point guards after being forced to defend the likes of UCLA's Lonzo Ball, Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, and Creighton's Marcus Foster.

Junior guard Shannon Evans said it's tough to create a game plan for a player who is on Fultz's level, but there are key things the Sun Devil guards have been doing at practice.

"Endless effort," Evans said. "You just have to take him out of his game, play hard, pick him up. Just play him hard. There's nothing you can really do to a guy like that that's already a pro."


Reach the reporter at mtonis@asu.edu or follow @Tonis_The_Tiger on Twitter.

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