SEATTLE — The Washington Huskies' previous encounter with Arizona State isn't a night they are going to forget easily.
"I remember they dunked on us the last second of the game," guard Isaiah Thomas said Friday. Whether it was the dunk by Ruslan Pateev with four seconds to play or that the Sun Devils held Washington to a season-low 51 points in a 17-point victory a month ago, the Huskies are looking to avenge a loss that knocked them out of the Top 25.
Rihards Kuksiks was 5 of 8 from 3-point territory and finished with 27 points as Arizona State shot 42 percent from behind the arc. Ty Abbott added 17 points and the matchup zone of the Sun Devils caused fits for the stagnant Washington offense as ASU rolled to an easy 68-51 victory in that earlier game.
On Saturday, Washington plays Arizona State on the Huskies' home court.
The home crowd helped Washington to a win over Arizona on Thursday night that put the Huskies back in the Pac-10 race.
"We know the big picture but we can't dwell on the big picture right now," head coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We can only say we have to take care of today and then take care of the next day."
The Huskies struggled at times Thursday night.
Quincy Pondexter scored 30 points in the game and Venoy Overton sank six free throws in the final minute to vault defending Pac-10 champion Washington back into the conference race with an 81-75 victory.
Overton made his deciding free throws in the final 49 seconds for the Huskies (15-7), after the Arizona Wildcats (11-10) battled back from 10 points down to within 73-71 late.
At 5-5 in Pac-10 games, the Huskies are only a game behind the four teams — Arizona, UCLA, Cal, and Arizona State — tied for the top conference records at 6-4.
Arizona State caused the Huskies problems with a matchup zone in the teams' previous meeting. The Sun Devils held forwards Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Tyrese Breshers and Darnell Gant to a combined six points. Pondexter was held to just nine points and the Huskies were just 3 of 14 from 3-point distance.
"We have to do a better job of moving the ball and not being so stagnant on offense and make sure we get great quality looks at the basket every time," Pondexter said. "Last time they really did a good job of forcing us into bad shots, forcing us into low percentage shots, and this time with the home crowd I think we're going to do a better job of taking care of the ball."
One difference for Washington this time around should be Justin Holiday. Holiday didn't make the trip to Arizona due to academic technicalities, leaving the Huskies without one of their best defensive options.
Holiday's lanky 6-foot-6 frame has caused fits for opposing teams this season and his presence was missed in the previous meeting.
"We're as good as our next performance and our approach," Romar said. "If our approach is where it needs to be every game and we reach our potential, then I like our chances to finish this strong — road or home — but that's the whole trick. We've got to play to our potential. That is the task at hand daily for our group. Play to our potential and get better."