ASU had an interesting weekend in sunny Los Angeles as three key contributors were suspended. Of the three, Keala King was actually dismissed from the program altogether while Kyle Cain and Chris Colvin have been reinstated and are expected to play this weekend. Amidst the drama, the Sun Devils actually split against the LA schools with an impressive win over USC before getting exposed against UCLA.
G/F – E.J Singler (12.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG) vs. Carrick Felix (10.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG)
Things could be a lot better for Oregon had Jabari Brown stuck around but the touted freshman couldn't hang but the good news is that Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph has stepped right in and taken away some of the sting of Brown's departure. A dynamic attacker, Joseph is very tough to stop and complements the sharp-shooting point guard, Garrett Sim, very well. Off the pine will be Johnathan Loyd and Brett Kingma – two athletic guards that are capable shooters.
It may not be how Naismith drew it up but ASU is .500 with Trent Lockett running the point and while he certainly could be better utilized elsewhere in the offense, he has done well since being pressed into duty. While Colvin is back from suspension, it's likely that he will be more of a spectator in the next couple weeks so Lockett might be seeing more PG duty until then. Creekmur and Felix offer different styles but both are crucial for the Sun Devils to surprise anyone. Creekmur has been streaky all year but the good news is that streaky shooters have to be hot from time to time to earn the label – let's hope he is the good streaky. Felix has been ill this week but should be ready to go by game time. His athleticism and ability to clog lanes and change shots on defense is just as important as his ability to get to the basket on offense. If we are lucky, we might get to see the Blonde Baller, Max Heller get some run.
Edge – ASU
Depth and talent are two things that the Ducks have down low that the Devils simply do not. Oregon runs out six different guys that can play in the post. E.J. Singler is the most versatile of the big man and he can play down low but is more comfortable on the perimeter. Jeremy Jacob and Tony Woods are the starters but the most skilled pure big man might be Olu Ashaolu – a transfer from Louisiana Tech. Also seeing time will be Carlos Emory and Tyrone Nared. Seriously, all these guys.
Alluding to the point I made in the paragraph above, Kyle Cain returns for the Devils and he doubles the bench depth! Pateev has been a mixed bag this season but he's most assertive when he gets physical and isn't afraid to attack the hoop. He is taller than everyone else and needs to be more aggressive. At the same time, he can't go punching people – one time is enough. Jordan Bachynski and Cain are coming on in reserve and while Cain and Colvin are in similar boats, I imagine Cain will see the floor earlier and more often just out of necessity. Bachynski needs to stop worrying about his hair and emphasize his presence. There is no reason he shouldn't be just even a little more impactful.
Edge – Oregon
How ASU Wins
Luckily for the Sun Devils, the Ducks are prone to the same problems that they are – cold shooting stretches and turnovers. It should be noted that if the Devils play like the ball is disease ridden and shoot like the basket has a lid on it; there's no chance they will win but if they can outperform their recent selves, which they have done in games against Wake Forest, Tulsa and USC, they are capable of being successful. The guys to watch are Gilling and Creekmur, Oregon allows opponents to shoot a measly 33% from long range so if they can crack the code and knock down some shots – an upset just might happen.
Final Score – Arizona State 59 Oregon 55