There are a lot of new faces this season for the Arizona State men’s basketball team, and through the first three games those faces have impressed. The Sun Devils have cruised to easy wins against their first three opponents, with wins of 45, 36, and 28 points. New players like Jermaine Marshall, Chance Murray and Shaquielle McKissic have all shined, but the real tests are soon to begin.
Through the first three games, ASU has three players averaging over 10 points per game, and two with at least 18 points per game. Senior Jordan Bachynski is averaging a double-double in each game with 12.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per contest so far. Jahii Carson and Jermaine Marshall lead the team in terms of scoring. Carson is in front with 56 points (18.7 per game) but Marshall is right behind him with 54 points (18 per game).
Apart from going 3-0 to start the season, Bachynski broke a very impressive individual record on Friday night against the Idaho State Bengals. Going into the game, he needed only four blocks to pass Mario Bennett (’91-’95) for most career blocks in ASU history. Bachynski ended the game with six blocks, putting him at 194 for his career. He is now sixth all-time in career blocks in the Pac-12, behind the likes of Anthony Cook (Arizona), Channing Frye (Arizona) and Taj Gibson (USC).
ASU has looked good in nearly all areas to start the season. Bachynski has been dominant inside, and Carson and Marshall have looked explosive as expected. The team has a solid field percentage at .506 and a very impressive three-point field goal percentage at .446. The Sun Devils are still struggling at times from the free throw line; they have a .686 from the foul line through three games. The team will have to improve there if it wants to make an appearance in the NCAA tournament this season.
While getting some impressive wins early is good for ASU — both to knock off the rust and to get the new players familiar with the rest of the team — the competition has not been great so far. That is going to change rather quickly over the next few weeks. This Tuesday, the Sun Devils travel to Las Vegas to face off with the UNLV Rebels, who made it to the national tournament a year ago. While UNLV has lost some key players from a year ago and has struggled early in the season, playing in Las Vegas is a tough thing to do and it will be a difficult environment on the road.
ASU then returns to Wells Fargo Arena next Friday for a good test against the Bradley Braves, who are 4-0 and looking very impressive in the early going this year. The real test, however, comes the following Monday, November 25, when the Marquette Golden Eagles travel to Tempe. Marquette is currently ranked seventeenth in the nation but is coming off a tough loss to the tenth ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Marquette did make it to the Elite Eight last season.
It only gets harder for the Sun Devils from here on out. They’re getting ready to go up against schools that have made multiple appearances on the NCAA’s big stage. The team has the tendency to start a little slow, as it did against Idaho State. If the Devils do that against quality opponents and go down early, it will be hard for them to claw their way back into games. That being said, they have a good amount of talent and it’s going to interesting to see how they perform against high-caliber teams.