With first place and a direct path to the Pac-10 title on the line, there’s no doubt that Washington’s game Thursday against Arizona State is a big one. But how big?
To my figuring — considering its a pair of ranked teams, and the winner will emerge atop the Pac-10 standings — it’s the biggest since March 24, 2006, when UW was denied entry to the Elite Eight with an overtime loss to Connecticut.
On Tuesday, I ran that past three of the Huskies who were there in 2006, and none could come up with a bigger game since.
UW coach Lorenzo Romar:
“I would say so. … I would have to say yeah. … It’s fun to be involved in these types of contests. I know that’s what any competitor really plays for: to play against the best and play at the highest level.”
UW senior guard Justin Dentmon:
“The UConn game, man, that’s a sad game to think about; but yeah, you could put it with that game. I think this is going to be another tournament-like game for us, for our guys to get a feel for how a tournament game is.”
UW senior forward Jon Brockman:
“In terms of league play, it’s probably the biggest game since I’ve been a Husky. … It makes it real exciting. I know what the environment is going to be like: It’s going to be wild and crazy. They’re coming in with a lot of energy, a lot of focus; and really I’m sure Arizona State is thinking they deserve to be in first place. They’re coming in here and I know they’ve been thinking that the entire year: From when the season started they though they were the best team in this league, and they’re going to come in here and expect to take it.”
Meanwhile, folks in Tempe say this could be considered an even bigger game for Arizona State — perhaps the biggest basketball game in school history.
As you would figure, the game is sold out.
A quick scouting report:
NO. 14 ARIZONA STATE (21-5, 10-4)
AT NO. 21 WASHINGTON (20-7, 11-4)
8 p.m. Thursday, Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Series: Arizona State leads 34-32 overall. UW leads 17-14 at home. The teams split two meetings last season, each winning on the road. The Huskies won the earlier meeting this season, 84-71, at ASU.
Statistical leaders: For ASU, G James Harden, 21.2 ppg; F Jeff Pendergraph, 8.2 rpg; G Derek Glasser, 4.8 apg. For UW, G Isaiah Thomas, 15.9 ppg and 2.7 apg; F Jon Brockman, 11.3 rpg.
Scouting report: The Sun Devils are on a five-game Pac-10 winning streak, their longest since 1994-95. They also have won four straight Pac-10 road games, most since 1980-81. … UW leads the league in scoring and rebounding. ASU leads in 3-point field goals made, 3-point field goal defense, assists and assist/turnover ratio. … Individually, Harden leads the Pac-10 and is 16th nationally in scoring. Pendergraph leads the nation in field goal percentage (66.8). Rihards Kuksiks is fourth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (47.6). Brockman leads the Pac-10 in rebounding. Senior guard Justin Dentmon has moved to within a tenth of a point of Thomas for the UW scoring lead. UW junior forward Quincy Pondexter has scored in double figures in six straight games. Over that span he is averaging 17.7 points, shooting 60.6 percent and averaging 6.2 rebounds. He needs nine points to reach the 1,000-point career mark. … The Sun Devils are 2-1 this season against ranked teams — the two wins coming against UCLA and the loss to Washington.
Next: Noon Saturday, vs. Arizona, Hec Edmundson Pavilion; FSN.