Kuksiks, Abbott lead Sun Devils past HuskiesJan 9, 2010 - 2:30 PM By BOB BAUM AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz.(AP) -- Three games into the Pac-10 season, defending champion Washington isn't impressing anyone.
Rihards Kuksiks matched his career high with 27 points and Arizona State dominated the No. 24 Huskies from the start in a 68-51 victory Friday night.
Ty Abbott added 17 points for the Sun Devils (1-2 Pac-10, 11-5), who led by 11 in the first half and 19 in the second in the Huskies' second Pac-10 loss in a row.
Trent Lockett had 11 points for Arizona State. The Sun Devils had an 18-point advantage at the foul line, 30 of 37 to the Huskies' 12 of 21.
Isaiah Thomas led Washington (10-4, 1-2) with 20 points. Elston Turner was the only other Washington player in double figures with 10 in by far the Huskies' lowest-scoring game of the season.
"They played great defense," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We didn't have much going on the inside or outside. Kuksiks did a phenomenal job and it gave them someone to go to offensively."
Arizona State made 8 of 19 3-pointers, 5 of 8 by Kuksiks, while Washington was 3 of 14.
"I just came out aggressive," Kuksiks said. "I got some open looks and I made the first two. Then from that point on my teammates did a good job of finding me and I just knocked my shots down."
The Latvian's night included a rare and powerful dunk that brought his teammates off the bench.
The Huskies were coming off a 90-79 loss to Oregon last Saturday that snapped Washington's 18-game home winning streak.
Despite the one-sided the loss, Romar said he thought his players showed "more grit" than they did against the Ducks.
The Huskies' Quincy Pondexter, though, said the team can put out a better effort.
"We've just got to scrap," he said. "That's all I can say. That will solve all the problems we've got."
Although the Huskies struggled against the zone defense, were beaten on the boards 39-29 and only briefly cut the lead below 10 early in the second half, Romar was only mildly critical of his team's play and its two-game losing streak.
"You know, since we've been here at Washington, we've gone through worse times and ended up OK," he said.
Arizona State was swept at UCLA and USC last weekend, the latest a 47-37 loss to the Trojans.
"We could have been down all week but we had a lot of good practices this week," Abbott said. "We were really going hard, going at each other, really trying to get better. Midway through the week I knew it would turn around. I knew we had a shot."
Coach Herb Sendek agreed.
"Our guys came back, rolled up their sleeves and got to work," he said. "It was a fun week of practice. We could feel good about ourselves because of the investment that we made."
Neither team shot well as Arizona State took a 28-19 lead at the break, the fewest points in the first half this season for the Huskies. The previous low was 24 in their 63-59 win over Montana on Nov. 29.
The Sun Devils were worse from the field in the first half, making 6 of 22 (27 percent), but they were 5 of 13 from 3-point range to Washington's 1 of 6.
The Huskies switched defensive specialist Venoy Overton to Kuksik in the second half, but he still scored 14 points to his 13 in the first half.
Washington went the first 7:17 without a field goal, missing its first nine shots.
The Sun Devils started the game 5 of 15, but all five were 3-points. Abbott's second 3 of the night put Arizona State up 17-9 with 6:49 to play, and his two free throws with 4:58 to go made it 22-11.
Pondexter's layup cut it to 28-21 in the first half, but Kuksiks followed with a 3-pointer and Washington never got within single digits again.
It was the seventh victory for Arizona State over a ranked team in Sendek's three-plus seasons at the school. The Sun Devils only had five in the previous 11 seasons.
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