Arizona Preview

Rivalry games are always a good time and luckily for Alex Zendejas, he can't blow this one because when the Arizona State Sun Devils (9-7, 1-3) visit Tucson to take on the Arizona Wildcats (14-3, 3-1), they won't be bringing James Brooks.

ASU comes into the matchup sliding after getting swept at home by the Bay Area schools that included a low scoring pasting by Stanford before losing a nail biter to Cal. The good news is that with the layoff in the schedule, the Devils were able to finish off their non-conference slate with a win over Tulsa on Wednesday. Ty Abbott went off for 25 points while Carrick Felix poured in 21 of his own.

Arizona is going the other direction. The right direction. They didn't have any games during their long week and are coming off a sweep of Cal and Stanford. Derrick Williams continued to lead the balanced attack as he led his team in scoring in both games including a career-high 31 against Cal.

Head Coach: Sean Miller vs. Herb Sendek

Projected Starters:

G – MoMo Jones (7.9 PPG, 2.4 APG) vs. Jamelle McMillan (6.0 PPG, 4.5 APG)

G – Kyle Fogg (8.0 PPG, 2.5 APG) vs. Ty Abbott (13.3 PPG, 39% 3PT)

G – Solomon Hill (8.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG) vs. Trent Lockett (13.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG)

F – Jamelle Horne (7.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG) vs. Carrick Felix (5.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG)

F – Derrick Williams (19.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG) vs. Ruslan Pateev (3.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG)

Backcourt

Point Guard U? Maybe in the past but MoMo Jones is surely a work in progress. A dynamic athlete with a bevy of skills in his arsenal, Jones is still learning the nuances of the position and has struggled with turnovers and isn't distributing enough but on the other hand, he still impacts the game because he is a handful for opposing defenders when attacking the lane. Next to Jones on the wings are Kyle Fogg and Solomon Hill. All three guards contribute to the balanced attack as they all average around eight points while Fogg leads the team in assists and Hill is second on the team in rebounds. Off the bench, Jordin Mayes and Brendon Lavender spell the starters well. Daniel Bejarano probably won't play.

Jamelle McMillan returns from his injury just in time for the rivalry game while Ty Abbott might be getting hot just in time as well after a personal scorching of Tulsa. Trent Lockett is still recovering from his toe injury and hasn't been as explosive in his return. A surprising new contributor will be Marcus Jackson, a walk-on point guard who has filled in admirably for McMillan and will likely be counted to play some big minutes if McMillan is slowed down. Also getting some run in the backcourt will be Brandon Dunson and if we're lucky, Keala King.

Edge – ASU

Frontcourt

Welcome to the Derrick Williams show. One of the best players in the nation and arguably the best post player in college basketball, Williams is the only Wildcat scoring in double digits and leads the team in rebounds and can hit the open three with high frequency. Complementing him in the post is Jamelle Horne, a player who has been in Tucson for what seems to be a decade and a player who is shooting the lights out this year. Frontcourt reserves for Arizona include the versatile and mouthy Kevin Parrom as well as Jesse Perry and Kyryl Natyazhko.

Herb Sendek has had to mix and match all season long and he has resorted back to his original starting big in Pateev but in the meantime, Rihards Kuksiks has been relegated to the bench as Carrick Felix is been inserted into the starting lineup. Felix is a more explosive playmaker than Kuksiks but not quite the shooter. Joining Kuksiks in relief will be Kyle Cain and Chanse Creekmur.

Edge – Arizona

X-Factor

Urgency. If the Devils were playing as well as they are capable of playing, they'd be 4-0 in Pac-10 play heading into a daunting road trip. Unfortunately, ASU is in a bad rut, losing three of four to lower echelon teams – including two at home. This team needs to start playing with a real sense of urgency because if they don't, they could return from their Washington trip with a 1-6 Pac-10 record and a lost season before February.

Who Will Win and Why

Since Lute Olson left the program, the Devils have dominated this series but the momentum may just be evening out. The ‘Cats have won some recruiting battles in the last few years and have exceeded expectations in Sean Miller's second season. This is an important game for ASU as they will need to really play better than they have shown they can if they want to get out of McKale with a win. I think Arizona will use the home court advantage to go on crucial runs and put the game away in the second half.

Final Score – Arizona 66 ASU 58


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