Arizona State University (Public – Research Institution)
Mascot: Sun Devils
Location: Tempe, AZ
Current Record: 8-17 (4-9 in Pac-12 Conference)
RPI: 229 SOS: 109
Coach: Herb Sendek (6th year)
First Thought: Did you know that Arizona State University is now the largest in the country? Since the State of Arizona has only three 4-year universities, these three universities have grown dramatically in recent years as the state’s population has boomed. Arizona State is often regarded as a major party school, but they do O.K. on the academic side ranking #81 in the world according to the Academic Rankings of World Universities survey.
Best Win: 67-64 at Tulsa (RPI 111)
Worst Loss: 69-68 to Northern Arizona (RPI 333)
Last Game: 63-49 loss to Colorado (RPI 74)
Synopsis: It’s hard to imagine that Herb Sendek will remain coach of the Sun Devils after this year. His teams the last couple of years have been atrocious. The team got off to a rough start with big time recruit Jahii Carson was ruled academically ineligible. The team has been troubled with chemistry issues all year and that eventually led to their leading scorer Keala King leaving/being dismissed from the team. This dismal season came to an ultimate low in their 21 point loss on the road to lowly Utah, including scoring a season low 43 points back in January.
That being said, they challenged the Huskies in Tempe last month. I was there to see the Huskies held to just 21 points in the first half. It was very frustrating. I was there to see the Sun Devils make a comeback against the Huskies after Washington opened up a nice little lead with a 14-1 run to open the 2nd half. I was disappointed to the Huskies let Danish forward Jonathan Gilling score a career high 20 points. I was disappointed when Austin Sefarian-Jenkins left Gilling with under a minute left and he drained an open three to make it very uncomfortable. But, I give lots of credit to the Huskies for knocking down their free throws late in the game to seal it, much as they did against Oregon State on Sunday. CJ Wilcox was money at the line late in the game.
My analysis: Despite the struggles, Arizona State does still have some talent on the roster. 6’4″ junior guard Trent Lockett is averaging a team high 35 min per game while scoring 13.6 points and 6.3 rbs. He’s tall and crafty and could be a tough matchup for Wroten or Gaddy. He’s also really good beyond the arc and is averaging 44.7% from 3-point range. The key in Tempe was that Lockett did not play due to a thigh injury. That might have changed the outcome of that game. But, he’ll be back in Seattle and the Huskies need to be ready for him.
In addition 6’6″ wing Carrick Felix is logging big minutes (34 per game) while scoring 10.2 points and 4.4 rbs. Felix is extremely athletic and leads the team in blocks for the year. He didn’t do much in the first meeting, so look for him to take on a bigger role this time.
The Huskies were torched in Tempe by 6’7″ freshman forward Jonathan Gilling of Denmark. You better believe Romar will want Simmons or Austin-Sefarian Jenkins on him tight. In classic European-style, he loves to step outside the arc and is averaging 41.1% from 3-point range.
Up front, the biggest match up issues for Aziz, Gant, and Simmons will be rebounding and penetrating against the twin towers of 7’2″ Jordan Bachynski of Alberta and 7’0″ Ruslan Pateev of Russia. They are not big scorers, but they do create a presence inside on defense. Jordan had some effectiveness and a big dunk against the Huskies, while Pateev didn’t show much.
There can not be a bigger “must-win” game in the regular season than a home game against a team sporting an RPI of 229. If the Huskies lose this, then it’s pretty much auvoir/adios/tschuss/arrevederci to their hopes of making the NCAA tournament. This team needs to come out focused and open up a lead early. The Huskies are averaging just 28.1 first half points per game in the last 10 and only scored 21 in Tempe. They need to come out strong and take away any chances of the upset early. It’s time to see some real leadership and real motivation. If it can’t happen in this game, then it’s all over…
My Prediction: UW 73 Arizona State 57