Last weekend's Pac-10 Washington trip for the ASU Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats proved oddly upbeat for the local schools, considering that they returned to the desert with but one win in the four games played.
Yes, a loss is a loss is a loss, but ASU acquitted itself pretty well on Saturday against the apparent class of the league, the Washington Huskies, losing by 13 points in a game that was tight until the final few minutes.
Not so positive, however, was Thursday's thumping at the hands of Washington State, which sits in out-of-the-way Pullman.
It was a testament to Devils' head coach Herb Sendek that his team played so well and so fearlessly about 36 hours later at the Huskies' tough venue in Seattle.
Arizona couldn't hold up against Washington in a big-time, nationally televised game on Thursday night, but avoided a lost weekend by sneaking by the Cougars on Saturday by two points--a coveted league road win and a comeback one at that.
Jamelle Horne, who often disappears for long stretches of games, came through at the end with some critical three-pointers or the Cats may have been sunk.
The win left the Wildcats tied with UCLA, just one game behind Washington in the Pac-10 race. ASU is by itself in last place with a 1-6 league record, but there's not a tremendous difference between the Devils and most of the teams ahead of them.
None of this year's crop are likely to sniff the Final Four in March, or anything close to it (a Sweet Sixteen team would be nice), though Washington's wonderful little point guard Isaiah Thomas can do some special things.
That leads us to this weekend's home games.
Arizona has a key one on Thursday night down in Tucson against UCLA, which seems like an emimently even matchup to us. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN-2.
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We suspect that Bruins' head coach Ben Howland will devise a strategy to try to frustrate the Cats' gifted forward Derrick Williams, without whom Arizona seems to instantly flounder.
Starting at 6:30 p.m. over in Tempe, ASU will take on Southern Cal in another game that should be close (unless the Trojans beat up the Devils underneath). The game doesn't seem to be scheduled for a TV broadcast, so fans will have to tune in on 620-AM to hear what's up.
On Saturday, the two local schools will switch opponents, with ASU going against UCLA at 3:30 p.m. and Arizona playing USC later in the afternoon.