ASU Basketball: Sun Devils prepare for the Bruins

TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 13: Kodi Justice
TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 13: Kodi Justice /

After one of it’s most exhilarating wins, ASU basketball sits at 6-6 in Pac-12 play with a chance for the first win over UCLA in the Bobby Hurley era.

This matchup between the Bruins and ASU should be one of the highest scoring affairs of the season. ASU and UCLA currently have the two highest scoring offenses in the Pac-12. Combined the two offensive juggernauts have scored 90 points or more 15 times.

UCLA’s latest victory could be considered their best yet. The Bruins defeated 13th-ranked Arizona in Tucson, led by Aaron Holiday’s 17 points and eight assists. The Bruins flexed their muscles in a decisive 82-74 victory. UCLA made a case for cracking the AP Top 25 with consecutive wins over USC and UA, the Pac-12’s then top two teams.

With four players averaging 11 or more points, the Bruins have forged themselves a pace-and-space identity. UCLA has shot 289 three pointers in conference play, the third most in the Pac-12.

Luckily for the Sun Devils, they play best when the pedal is to the metal. All year long the Sun Devils have tried to play up-tempo basketball like they did in non-conference play, where they went 12-0.

With the momentum coming from the astonishing comeback victory of USC, the Sun Devils have a real shot to win in Tempe Saturday night. The dynamic backcourt duo of Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II have scored 40+ points combined in two straight Pac-12 wins for ASU.

This game will be high scoring no doubt, so the key to victory lies in the little things. ASU must win the deflections, steals and rebounding battle if they want to win tonight. The way ASU made their nine-point comeback against USC was with a stout defensive stand. The Trojans did not score a single point in the final 2:28 of the game.

Another storyline to follow tonight is how Kodi Justice bounces back after one of his worst games of the season. He shot 2-of-8 from the field and 0-of-6 from three in 26 minutes against the Trojans. Justice is a career 41 percent three-point shooter and is vital for the Sun Devils long term success.

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The matchup against UCLA marks the second game of the Sun Devils most important stretch of the season. With a win tonight, the Sun Devils would improve to 7-6 in Pac-12 play as they creep ever closer to the upper half of conference standings.