As ASU basketball returns back to reality after celebrating coach Bbby Hurley’s first victory over its in-state rival, the team must face a harsh realization.
The Sun Devils still have a lot more work to do in order to make the NCAA Tournament, as the Pac-12 is stacking up more each week to be a one-bid league.
Halfway through conference play, ASU sits at the second spot with a record of 6-3 behind the front-running Washington Huskies. who have an 8-0 unblemished record at the top.
The Sun Devils have benefitted from wins in four of their last five games to vault them from the middle of the pack to the second-place spot.
To better explore how ASU has gotten to this point, we must take a deep statistical dive showing the good and the bad of the first of Pac-12 play for Arizona State.
Starting with the good, if not great, we have the play of sophomore Martin, who poured in a team and career-high 31 points against Arizona to up his conference average on the season to 14.6 per game.
While we have grown accustomed to seeing the guard pour in points at a high rate for the Sun Devils, it has been his passing ability that has been key to the team’s success during conference play.
Martin’s assist percentage, a rating that estimates the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on the floor, currently sits at a team-high 37.1 percent during Pac-12 play.
To put this number in perspective, the next closest on the team comes from Zylan Cheatham at a rate of 18.2, a mere half of what Martin is averaging per game.
This assist percentage has converted to 6.7 assists per game from Martin in the last nine games while also shooting an outstanding 47.8 percent from the 3-point line, including going 5-of-7 against Arizona in the team’s last game.
Martin’s contributions show up heavily on both sides of the floor as he leads the team in overall plus/minus with an 8.1 rating on the year to lead the team.
Keeping things on the positive side, we move to the performance of senior transfer Cheatham, who has been a key factor in the Sun Devils No. 12 ranking in total rebounds in the nation.
The senior is currently on a tear on the boards as he has secured 56 rebounds in the last three games, with 20, 14 and 22 rebounds against UCLA, USC and Arizona respectively.
Cheatham’s ability does not go unnoticed in the advanced stats as he currently pulls down 19.2 percent of the Sun Devils’ rebounds when he is in the game.
While the senior forward has been an essential rebounder, his skill set is far from one dimensional. Cheatham is currently the only player in the Pac-12 averaging a double-double during conference play at 12.3 points and 12 rebounds per game with 3.3 assists on the side.
While the first two players provided us with the good, freshman sensation Dort provides us with the bad. After a hot start to the season, Dort has been limited since the beginning of Pac-12 play.
The struggles start with his usage rate, an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he is on the floor, which is at a team-high 26.8 percent. This means Dort is getting the chance to make a difference by touching the ball, but is not converting.
The evidence lies in his 3-point shooting percentage and plus-minus, which both sit near the bottom of the team.
While not advertised as a great 3-point shooter, Dort’s percentage of 19.6 from downtown shows a truly struggling shooter, as he averages around five attempts per game.
Dort’s plus/minus shows much more of the struggles on both sides of the ball, as his 1.4 rating is the worst of the Sun Devils who get regular playing time, with the next lowest being a 2.1 from guard Rob Edwards.
The aforementioned trio combined with the play of the rest of the team has put the Sun Devils near the top in a variety of categories during conference play. Here’s how Arizona State’s numbers during Pac-12 play stack up with the rest of the conference.
PTS/G: 79.3 (2nd)
FG %: .460 (6th)
3P%: .367 (4th)
FT%: .668 (9th)
ORB: 108 (2nd)
DRB: 252 (1st)
TRB: 360 (1st)
AST: 142 (1st)
STL: 51 (6th)
BLK: 20 (8th)
TOV: 124 (11th)
All stats courtesy of Sports Reference and are accurate as of February 1, 2019.