ASU Basketball: Matchup with Cal a must-win for Sun Devils

TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 13: Remy Martin
TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 13: Remy Martin /

A 2-4 start in conference play has ASU basketball at 10th place in the Pac-12 standings and searching for answers heading into a matchup with California.

Over the first 12 games of the season, the offense of Arizona State was in the zone. Now, the Sun Devils can’t seem to solve a zone.

ASU is averaging 77.5 points per game in six Pac-12 contests, down from the 91.8 being scored in non-conference games. Inconsistency and a lack of size has shaken the confidence of a team that handedly defeated Xavier and Kansas.

Following an underwhelming start to the conference season, a Saturday night game at the California Golden Bears has become a ‘must-win’ for the Sun Devils.

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Under first-year head coach Wyking Jones, Cal has struggled with a 7-12 record that includes a 1-5 mark in Pac-12 games. The program has lost five straight and has yet to win since the calendar turned to 2018.

Cal lost four of five starters from its 2017 team that was a No. 1 seed in the NIT. Center Kingsley Okoroh returns as well as the addition of Kentucky transfer Marcus Lee to create a formidable frontcourt tandem that averages a combined 4.1 blocks per game.

While Cal possesses an experience edge in the paint, Bobby Hurley has Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice manning the backcourt. The trio has been out of sync recently with Holder shooting just 11-of-46 over the past four games.

However, the defense of the Golden Bears has been less than stellar as they allow 80.3 points per game, ranking in the bottom 30 of all teams. ASU, looking for answers offensively, could break out of its slump against one of the weaker defenses in the conference.

With a chance to right the ship before playing seven of their final 11 games at home, the Sun Devils can’t afford to drop to 2-5 in conference.

Next: ASU Basketball: Second-half rally falls short at Stanford

Tip-off between Arizona State and California is at 8:30 p.m. MT from Haas Pavilion and the game can be seen on Pac-12 Network.