It's about an hour before tipoff in ASU's Wells Fargo Arena, so it's time to fill you in on the pregame news. And today there is some, so read on.
• Yes, news. Both teams will play today without their second-leading scorer. It looks as if Ty Abbott, Arizona State's best shooter and perimeter defender, will miss today's contest with a bum left rotator cuff. Abbott is in street clothes, using his right hand to shoot with his left hanging limply at his side. Plus, his earring is still in, so my guess was he was a no go. I was right. Abbott averages 13 points and 2.5 assists per game while also blocking 17 shots, second best for the Sun Devils. His loss is just another tough blow ASU has had to absorb in this tough 9-16, 1-12 in Pac-10 play, season. … For WSU, Faisal Aden did not practice yesterday was sent home to get physical therapy on his ailing left knee. It was decided if he could not play today that he might as well get back to Pullman in an attempt to ensure his availability against Washington. Aden did not play against the Sun Devils in Pullman either. … The Cougar coaches emphasized getting to Abbott when he caught the ball, meaning they one of the few Devils they believe can really light it up from the outside. He's a guy who can get hot from the outside – he's hitting 40.8 percent of his 3-pointers – and carry the Devils. He did it in a win against Tulsa with 25 and against St. John's with 22. … All in all, the ledger probably tips toward WSU with both players out, even though the Cougars may have more trouble replacing the offensive production (Jamelle McMillian has been playing well, with four consecutive double digit scoring games before the UW loss). ASU will miss Abbott's senior leadership and defensive toughness more. … The Sun Devils play a highly effective motion offense and, considering they play almost exclusively matchup zone, attack zone defenses with confidence. They struggled against WSU's combination of defenses in Pullman, shooting just 32.8 percent from the floor – with Abbott, who had a team-high 16 points in 28 minutes, hitting half his 10 shots. … The Sun Devils rely on their matchup to disrupt your offense, but it didn't work against WSU the first time, and hasn't much of the Pac-10 season. Teams are shooting 45.5 percent against them in conference play, 35.5 percent from beyond the arc. In the non-conference portion of the schedule, those numbers were just over 40 and 30 percent, respectively. … A big part of ASU's defensive problems is in the interior. Teams have been attacking them in the post and finding success. DeAngelo Casto had a career-high 25 against them in Pullman, converting 11 of 18 shots. Look for he and Brock Motum to get multiple opportunities again today. … One last thing. The Wells Fargo Arena, which holds about a million people, won't be full today. Not close. And it's cavernous confines gives the game all the buzz of visiting your local Wells Fargo ATM.
• That's it for now. A quick note about the post-game. We are scheduled to get out of here tonight, saving a night in a hotel room. So we're going to get our interviews done, head to the airport and write either there or on the plane. As we get back to Seattle early, it's all good. If there is wi-fi on the plane, we'll post our story and post-game blog pretty quickly. If not, expect it about 7:30 tonight. We'll be back at halftime, of course. Until then …