ASU 7-footer Warren Washington leads Sun Devil offense in win over WSU
TEMPE — The Arizona State men’s basketball tipped off the new year with a 77-71 win over Washington State on Thursday night at Desert Financial Arena.
Bobby Hurley and Co. came out with a clear game plan: get the freaky athletic 7-foot center Warren Washington touches early and often.
Washington came out of the gates on fire, as he made his first eight field goals en route to 16 first half points on 8-of-8 shooting and a 42-36 Sun Devils lead at halftime.
“It’s certainly something that we wanted to take more of a look at,” Hurley said postgame. “It was a concerted effort, especially the way he was making shots in the first half. You almost couldn’t call his number enough.”
The center finished the game with a team-high 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field, with his only miss coming on a missed dunk after a nice spin move along the baseline.
“I just feel like it has been a learning curve here just because they haven’t really had a big like me so I feel like this was a step in the right direction for sure,” Washington said postgame. “Credit to my teammates and my coaches because they really gave me a lot of opportunities today and I just took advantage of it.”
The high-low offensive strategy against WSU’s (6-10, 1-4 Pac-12) zone also allowed Washington to act as a point center at times, spreading the ball around to both perimeter shooters and backdoor cutters without having to put the ball on the floor.
Unselfish basketball 🤜🤛@5warrenw dishes it to Alonzo Gaffney for the jam
— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) January 6, 2023
“I think we had really good success against their zone when we hit the high post,” Hurley said. “We were able to go high-low a few times or just make a comfortable jump shot. … That was probably the adjustment that we needed to make.
“It was just focusing on getting the ball — because we were kind of dribbling around too much and too stationary and too stagnant on the perimeter. The high post was a good spot for us in the zone.”
Washington also finished with four assists, two rebounds and one steal in 28 minutes played.
Remarkably, the 7-footer led the Sun Devils in assists while 6-foot-1 point guard Frankie Collins led ASU with seven rebounds. Go figure.
“It goes to show how different our team is,” Washington said. “We all have different types of skills we can take advantage of.”
ASU shot 55% from the field on 31-of-56 attempts, including 5-for-17 from three (29%) and 10-of-15 from the free throw line. And as a team, the Sun Devils won the assist battle at 18-12.
“I’m honestly the most confident person when it comes to being in the post area,” Washington said. “They have to pick a poison really, they either double me or leave me in iso and that’s an easy bucket for me.”
Warren Washington: 16 points on 8/8 shooting
38-31 ASU | 1H 2:31pic.twitter.com/e8a38KO55R
— Jake Anderson (@jwa1994) January 6, 2023
“It just felt great to get high-percentage shots,” Hurley said. “Warren really kicked things off. … I think our offense just flowed very well. A lot of the shots came off of moving the basketball and just quality, unselfish play.”
Compare that to Washington State’s 43% clip from the floor on 27-of-63 shooting, which featured a 34% mark from three (11-for-32) and a 67% metric from the charity stripe (6-of-9). Cougars guard Jabe Mullins led the team with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting (58.3%), including 5-for-9 from deep (56%).
Arizona State (12-3, 3-1) is now 6-1 in two-possession games this season and 30-14 since the 2019-20 campaign, which marks the most wins of its kind in all of college basketball in that span.
– Washington State offensive lineman Jack Wilson, who is listed at 6-foot-11, 330 pounds, is also a center for the WSU basketball team. He has now played against ASU in two different sports this school year.
Arizona State hosts Washington on Sunday at 3 p.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM.