Tonight, the ASU men’s basketball team hosts Oregon State in the first of a three game home stand. Oregon State and ASU are both 5-4 in the conference, so tonight’s game serves to separate the two in conference standings.
The Beavers come in on a bit of a hot streak, having won two in a row, a sweep of the LA schools at home. Both of their victories were close games, including an overtime win against USC. In fact, all of Oregon State’s losses have been close games, contradicting their 13-8 record. Their worst loss was by eleven points.
Oregon State is led by shooting guard Roberto Nelson who averages about 20 points per game. He is their best 3 point shooting threat. Recently, point guard Hallice Cooke has emerged as a scorer, dropping 20 on UCLA. Eric Moreland, a 6-10 forward is their leading rebounder.
The Beavers are not an up-tempo team. They like to shorten the game and run their sets. They are deliberate and fundamentally sound. But they are not the most athletic team. Nor are they very deep. However, this team has shown competitiveness and can knock off anyone that doesn’t take them seriously.
For ASU, the approach is “business as usual” : Win At Home.
This is a must-win for the Sun Devils. ASU is a more talented team across the board. They need to win this game to preserve any chance of meaningful post-season play.
The reality is that Oregon State probably does not possess the quickness to run with ASU. Coach Sendek’s squad should look to push the tempo. At the very least, they should play with high energy and attack the basket and crash the boards with ferocity. Defensively, they have to play with the purpose of overwhelming Oregon State with in-the-face, high pressure defense.
Even though this Sun Devil team hasn’t statistically hit the “desperation” part of the season yet. They need to play that way. They need to focus, concentrate, hustle and communicate with great awareness to pull down a victory tonight against the Beavers.