After a 70-67 win over Oregon State on Thursday, ASU basketball now prepares for its next opponent: Pul White and the Oregon Ducks.
This is the perfect chance for Arizona State to find its stride. Fresh off a win against Oregon State, ASU is now 3-2 in Pac-12 play and just 1.5 games out of first place.
Washington remains the conference’s only undefeated, so the Sun Devils have a legitimate chance at competing for the league’s crown. The next road block for ASU is Oregon – a team that has underachieved for the majority of 2018-19.
But over the last week, the Ducks have been prolific. Riding a two-game winning streak, Oregon heads to Tempe on Saturday with hopes of continuing its recent success.
Coming into the season, Bol Bol and Payton Pritchard were expected to be the Ducks’ leaders. Well, Bol suffered a season-ending injury in the non-conference season, and Pritchard has been less effective than he was as a sophomore.
It’s actually been a different player has risen to prominence as of late – senior forward Paul White.
After a slow start in the non-conference schedule, the Georgetown transfer has been exceptional in his last eight games. Over that span, he has reached double figures seven times and is averaging almost 14 points per game.
Standing 6-foot-9, White is a unit down low and one of the most physical players on Dana Altman’s roster. But he doesn’t shoot like a traditional post player.
White’s 37.7 three-point field-goal percentage is the fourth best on Oregon and the highest mark of any active forward on the roster. Following the Ducks’ 59-54 win over Arizona on Thursday, Altman praised his mindful shot selection and court awareness.
Thankfully for the Sun Devils, this isn’t their first time dealing with a long, versatile forward like White.
On Thursday, ASU matched up against Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle, who is second in the Pac-12 with 20.1 points per game. Though Tinkle still scored 21 points, the ASU defense did a nice job of forcing bad shots, and he finished the game shooting 7-of-19.
Because of White’s diverse skill set, it’s not just the frontcourt that needs to show up on Saturday; the backcourt must do their part. Against the Beavers, Remy Martin, Rob Edwards and Luguentz Dort were pivotal in multiple situations with stingy help-side defense.
Keying in on White and taking away his shots could go a long way in improving ASU’s conference record to 4-2.