ASU Basketball: Sun Devils Take on UofA


Today, at 5 pm, the ASU men’s basketball team will visit their hated in-state rival, the Wildcats of Arizona.  The game will be televised on Fox Sports One.

Needless to say, the Sun Devils are huge underdogs for this contest.  ASU is 8-5 after 13 games.  Meanwhile Arizona is 12-1 and nationally ranked at #8,  There are some positives for ASU fans as the Sun Devils prepare to invade a hostile McKale Center:  ASU has won two games in a row, while U of A is coming off of their first loss.  That one loss for Arizona was to a common opponent for ASU.  The Wildcats fell to UNLV on Dec. 23rd by four points on the road.  ASU pounded UNLV by 22 points a month ago at home.  Finally, the last time these two teams played, ASU was victorious.  (Valentines Day)

While all of those facts are positive, they truthfully don’t mean much.  U of A is almost impossible to beat at home.  The Wildcats also have played a tougher schedule.  But most importantly, they are very talented.  With a good mix of returning veterans and blue-chip newcomers, the U of A roster is impressive.

Still, the Wildcats have recently shown that they are vulnerable, or at least imperfect.  Their loss at UNLV proves they are beatable.  However, one has to think that the loss in Sin City has probably gotten that team re-focused.  Expect a great effort from coach Sean Miller’s squad for this rivalry game and PAC-12 opener.

For the Sun Devils, although their schedule has not been as daunting as Arizona’s, they have proven that they can play with whoever they match-up with.  Their five losses have been by a total of 19 points.  Their worst loss margin was to Marquette on the road by 7 points.  ASU’s biggest problem is closing out games.  In all of their losses, they stumbled down the stretch in close games by missing free throws, committing a costly turnover or not getting a good look in their final possession.  They haven’t been blown out by anybody.

Another plus for ASU is the emergence of forward Savon Goodman.  Goodman has only played in 5 games for the Sun Devils.  He has only started in four.  You have to believe that every day he practices and plays, he is getting more and more accustomed to playing with his teammates.  Goodman is one of the few players on ASU’s roster that has the physical make-up and tenacity to match-up with the Wildcats.

ASU’s best shot at beating Arizona in Tucson is to play near perfect basketball.  Of course, perfection is impossible, but they need to be close.  Their shooters have to be “on” tonight.  Their bench has to help, not hurt the team’s effort.  And they absolutely need to work like animals on the boards.  If Arizona wins the rebound battle, ASU will have no chance.  In basketball, rebounding is a function of desire.  The Sun Devils have got to be hungry enough to really crash the boards.

Devils in Detail is hoping for a spirited effort from this Sun Devil squad.  However, our prediction is that ASU falls to the Wildcats.  While they may make things interesting with a nice run in each half, they are simply too out-manned to pull off the upset in Tucson.

Prediction:  U of A: 70, ASU: 58