Huskies, Sun Devils Battle For Pac-10 Supremacy Thursday
Feb. 25, 2009
SEATTLE - There is always at least one game on every college basketball team's schedule that gets players and supporters excited.
For 21st ranked Washington and No. 14 Arizona State, tomorrow night's 8 p.m. matchup at Bank of America is that game.
The Huskies reside at the top of the Pacific-10 Conference standings with a slim one-half game lead over ASU, virtually guaranteeing the winner of tomorrow's sold-out game the inside track to the league's regular-season title.
Thursday's sold-out men's hoops game against Arizona State is sold out. Watch it on FSN Northwest or listen on the Washington ISP Sports Network or GoHuskies.com.
Both teams will be playing for a slice of history. Washington has not won an outright conference title since its dominant 1953 team that won the Pacific Coach Conference - although the Huskies did win a share of the Pac-10 title in 1984 and 1985 under coach Marv Harshman.
Arizona State has never finished higher than second-place since joining the Pac-10 in 1979. ASU's last outright conference title was a Western Athletic Conference championship in 1973. The Sun Devils won the WAC twice and, before that, claimed two outright Border Conference titles dating back to 1946.
Washington enters tomorrow's game with a 20-7 overall record and a 10-3 mark in the league after splitting a tough pair of games last weekend at UCLA and USC. The Huskies are the only team in the Pac-10 that has not lost consecutive league games and has won 18 of its last 22 outings.
The Huskies have the Pac-10's highest-scoring team. They also lead the league (and rank third nationally) in rebounding and are also one of the best perimeter defensive teams in the conference.
The backcourt duo of Justin Dentmon and Isaiah Thomas combine to average 32 points and 2.5 steals per game. Thomas, the league's top freshman scorer, leads the UW with a 15.9 per game scoring average and is the front-runner for conference Freshman of the Year honors.
Dentmon, a senior who has rapidly moved into 14th on the school's all-time scoring list (1,346 points), is the second-leading scorer in the league in conference games. He is also second on the UW's career steals list and third in assists.
Senior Jon Brockman has moved back into the Pac-10 rebounding lead and ranks seventh nationally with an 11.3 per game average. He is the UW's all-time leader in that category and was recently named to the midseason watch lists for the Naismith Trophy and the John R. Wooden Award - given to the nation's top player.
Junior forward Quincy Pondexter has been a sparkplug for the Huskies recently. The Fresno, Calif. native has averaged 17.6 points and 6.2 rebounds and is shooting .714 from the field in the last six games and is having a career year statistically.
Arizona State enters the game with a 21-5 overall record and 10-4 mark in the Pac-10. The Sun Devils currently enjoy a five-game win streak, their second-longest of the season, and has a 6-2 record on the road this season.
ASU has the league's number two scoring defense, allowing opponents just 58.9 points per game. As one of the Pac-10's top defensive units, it also leads the league in three-point field goal defense and is third in overall field goal percentage defense.
Junior James Harden is the Pac-10's leading scorer, averaging 21.2 points per game. He is also among the conference's best in field goal percentage, assists and steals. Senior Jeff Pendergraph ranks fourth in the league in rebounding (8.2) and is the Pac-10 leader in field goal percentage, making 66.8 percent of his shot attempts.
Following tomorrow night's contest, Arizona State travels to Pullman, Wash. to take on the Cougars Saturday at 2 p.m., while the Huskies remain at home to host Arizona in a 12 p.m. tipoff.
Washington's game against Arizona is sold-out, but the game will be televised live in HD by FSN and will air live on the radio via the Washington ISP Sports Network and GoHuskies.com.
Next week, Washington hosts Seattle University for the first time since 1979. A limited number of tickets are on sale by calling the Husky Ticket Office at (206) 543-2200.