ASU Basketball: Devils Welcome U of A


Today, the ASU men’s basketball team hosts their in-state rival Arizona in a PAC-12 conference game.  Tip-off is at 2:30 at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.

This game is somewhat pivotal for both teams.  For ASU, this is a conference game played at home.  Devils in Detail has contended that for ASU to make a run in March, they must “hold serve” at home, meaning they must win all their home games and take one out of two on road trips.  Secondly for ASU, a win against Arizona will impress a selection committee for the tournament. (should it come to that).  But most of all, beating the in-state rival would be a huge confidence booster for ASU as they head into the second half of conference play.

For Arizona, ASU is a hurdle on their quest to become conference champions and a national contender.  The Wildcats are looking to build momentum and a solid resume heading into March.  Arizona coach Sean Miller knows that this game will be a “tough out”.  Rivalry games usually are.  And recently, ASU has had success at home against Arizona.

On the court, ASU has been playing better in the last 5 games.  They are taking care of the ball and knocking down shots.  However, in their last game against Oregon, the ASU defense looked a little fatigued.  They didn’t have quite the same energy they had in the previous four games.  The close-outs on shooters and footwork defending penetration seemed a little slower.  That won’t work against Arizona.  With the athletes that Arizona brings, especially Stanley Johnson, the Sun Devil defense will have to work harder than they ever have in order to prevent U of A from getting good looks at the basket.

ASU has one advantage besides playing at home.  They are the overwhelming underdogs.  According to just about everyone outside the program, Arizona has already won the game.  So, in a sense, ASU has nothing to lose.  They should be able to go out play loosely with no expectations or pressure.  But this advantage is slight.  Most of the time, the talent difference emerges and the better team wins.

Today, ASU must contain Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell and keep the UofA big men off the boards.  Easier said than done.  But rebounding is mostly effort.  And the Sun Devils have been putting forth tremendous effort lately.

In games like this, where one team (UA) is clearly more talented than the other, all it really means is that the less talented team (ASU) has to play “more perfect” than they usually do.  It’s not easy, but it’s possible.  This Sun Devil team is capable of knocking off Arizona.  But it will require hard work, focus and confidence.  Sun Devil fans are hoping the home court will provide much of that.