Three weeks removed from a weekend that seemed to portend better things ahead, Arizona State and host Washington State will meet again in Pullman, Wash., trying to recapture better vibes.
When Arizona State defeated Washington State 77-71 at home on Jan. 5, the victory kickstarted a four-game winning streak for the Sun Devils that fashioned plenty of momentum heading into a Pac-12 showdown with then-No. 5 UCLA.
The Sun Devils led the Bruins 35-30 at halftime but were steamrolled in the second half and haven't been the same since, losing the past three games.
The most recent setback came Thursday in a 69-66 overtime defeat at Washington when the Sun Devils (15-6, 6-4 Pac-12) rallied from a 10-point deficit midway through the second half. Desmond Cambridge Jr. scored 26 points, while going 4-of-13 from 3-point range. Cambridge leads Arizona State with 13.3 points per game.
"I think we mentally didn't have the right enthusiasm to play and that's the responsibility of the coaches to make sure that guys are playing frenetically, with good energy," Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. "... The only positive thing you could say, really, is that I approve of the scrambling mode of our last four minutes (of regulation)."
Washington State (9-13, 4-7) might have lost at Arizona State earlier in the month, but it rebounded two days later with a 74-61 road upset of then-No. 5 Arizona. The victory started a three-game winning streak, but all the momentum has faded in a current three-game losing skid.
Arizona got its revenge on Washington State 63-58 on Thursday when Justin Powell and Mouhamed Gueye each scored 15 points in defeat, with nine and 10 rebounds respectively. It was Gueye's eighth double-double of the season.
"(We) need to bring the energy in the beginning. We didn't have a good start," Gueye said after the Cougars trailed 16-7 just over six minutes into the game. "I think if we play hard like we did after the first media (timeout) we will be in a good position."
On defense, Washington State forced Arizona into 16 turnovers and held the Wildcats to 44.8 percent shooting from the field (40.0 percent in the second half).
--Field Level Media