We're back with the unedited version of our game story, along with some web-only notes. We'll be back in the morning with our usual day-after post. Read on.
• Here's the story …
TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State stayed in its zone.
And that allowed Klay Thompson to get into one as well.
The result was a career-high 28 points for the Washington State freshman and a 65-55 Cougar upset of the 14th-ranked Sun Devils before 10,745 at Wells Fargo Arena.
"I've felt like that before," said the soft-spoken Thompson of his 10 of 17 shooting, including 8 of 10 from beyond the arc, "but not for a while. It was good to get back in that rhythm.
"They were playing a zone, so it is easier to get open looks from 3 instead of against man-to-man. ... We would have played tighter on me, but they're a zone team and they play it well, so they didn't change what's working for them."
It wasn't working this night, because Thompson was, according to Taylor Rochestie, "hunting his shot." He did it by playing the rover spot in WSU's zone offense, running the baseline and coming off screens for open looks.
Thompson hit Washington State's first shot, a 22-footer from the wing, scored the Cougars (12-8 overall, 4-4 in the Pac-10) first five points and combined with center Aron Baynes for 25 of WSU's 27 first-half points.
Thursday's shocker wasn't built by Thompson alone, of course, but it was his five 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes, 16 seconds of the second half that allowed the Cougars to erase a three-point halftime deficit and finally surge in front, 44-43.
That lead came on Thompson's eighth long-range bucket – both his makes and attempts were career highs and WSU freshman records – that put WSU ahead for good.
"We'll just have Klay get 28 each night and that's all we need to do and then just chip in where we can," Rochestie said.
"Thompson was sensational," ASU coach Herb Sendek said, "despite our efforts to know where he was. Every time he broke free, he made us pay dearly."
After Thompson gave WSU the lead, the seniors took over, with Baynes, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, and Rochestie, who posted a full stat line with 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and no turnovers, scoring all but two of WSU's final 21 points.
Rochestie, who didn't score in the opening half, hit a 3 with 6:28 left to up the lead to 49-43, then, when ASU (16-4, 5-3) rallied to pull within 51-49, crushed the Sun Devil hopes with a 24-footer with 3:33 left and a pass to Baynes 2 minutes later for a dunk and an insurmountable 56-49 lead.
The only other Cougar basket down the stretch came from DeAngelo Casto (shown guarding Harden above), who did most of his work on the other end.
Casto, the 6-foot-8 freshman post from Spokane, came off the bench with 15:46 left and guarded James Harden, the Sun Devils' 6-4 All-America guard and the Pac-10's leading scorer, the rest of the way.
Though Harden scored 10 points of ASU's final 12 points – he finished with 26, four above his average, while no other ASU player reached double figures – he had to work for each – and went long stretches without getting a shot as WSU built its lead. The other Devils were 4 of 18 after halftime.
Before practice Tuesday, Casto and assistant coach Ben Johnson prepared for the possibility of guarding Harden, a sure top-5 pick if he enters the NBA draft this year.
Johnson put chairs on a side court and had Casto move through them, sliding his feet in anticipation of Harden's usual moves.
"I felt really good about myself that coach would have the confidence in me to put me in and have me guard him," Casto said. "That meant a lot to me.
"That's maybe why I played even a little better a little bit harder because my coach is counting on me, he has faith in me."
"I told him early in the week, 'D, be ready, you might get your chance,' " Bennett said. "He was kind of our wild card to guard (Harden).
"Boy, when you're that strong and that quick, I don't care how good you are offensively, that's a roadblock trying to get around him."
As were the Cougars.
NOTES: WSU hit 13 of 14 free throws, all between Baynes (8 of 8 thanks to a ASU lane violation with a minute left as Baynes missed the front end of a one-and one) and Rochestie. Going back to the final minutes of the Oregon State game, WSU is 62 of 64 on free throws, a hard to fathom 96.9 percent. ... ASU was 10 of 17, with Harden 8 of 13. … Jeff Pendergraph came up short in his personal battle with Baynes, though the senior had 10 rebounds to go with his 8 points. ... Casto was amazed to be guarding a guy he watched on television dominate the Pac-10 last year. "I was excited," he said of guarding Harden. "This guy is one of the best players in the nation right now, so I had to respect his game and respect what he could do and just know it was a great opportunity." ... Daven Harmeling started at the small forward and guarded Harden early. He was followed by Nik Koprivica and then Casto. ... Harmeling was 0-3 from the floor, all from beyond the arc. ... Sendek was unable to pick up his 300th win. And he knew why. "We have to make shots," Sendek said, pointing to ASU's 27.6 percent (8 of 29) shooting in the second half. "It's probably no more complicated than that right now for us." ... Rihards Kuksiks, the nation's leading 3-point shooter, was 2 of 10 from beyond the arc. Caleb Forrest, Koprivica and Thompson took turns guarding him. ... Thompson added seven rebounds, helping the Cougars outboard ASU 36-30. His eight 3-pointers were one short of a school record, last reached by Derrick Low against Oregon two years ago. ... Mike Harthun made his first appearance off the bench since near the end of the Washington loss. He missed his only attempt. ... Washington State has now won five consecutive games with ASU and evened the overall series at 32 apiece. ASU is the only Pac-10 team the Cougars have a .500 or better record against. ... With Arizona defeating Washington, WSU is only two games out of first place.
• That's about it for tonight. See you in the morning. Till then ...