Cal Preview

After a much needed home sweep, the Arizona State Sun Devils (15-5, 4-3) travel to the Bay Area to take on the California Golden Bears (14-6, 5-2) at Haas Pavilion on Wednesday night.

A tale of two teams in conference play so far, Cal has impressive wins over Stanford and Oregon on the road with another solid victory over Washington at home but the resume is tainted a bit when you realize they got beat soundly by USC, a team ASU beat handily, just last week. After a 5-0 start in Pac-12 play, the Bears were swept in Los Angeles and will be happy to get back home where they are undefeated in 11 games.

Getting a weekend sweep in conference play is always a good thing but it's even sweeter when you pull out a tight win to open things up and then completely blow out the opposition to cap things off. After a 79-75 win over Utah, the Sun Devils dominated Colorado from the tip and breezed their way to a 72-51 win to send the fans home happy and stress-free. Jahii Carson led the way with 18 points and nine players in total scored for ASU. The Buffs certainly didn't help themselves as they missed 15 free throws and shot under 20% from deep.

The Sun Devils needed to take care of business and they did. Now comes the hard part; Cal and Stanford are NCAA Tournament-caliber teams and play well at home. ASU has four wins away from home so far this season and adding more to that tally will prove vital come March. A split is doable and Cal is probably the less difficult game of the two.

Head Coach:

Mike Montgomery: 6th season at Cal – 123-64; 667-322 career

Herb Sendek: 8th season at ASU – 134-113; 388-291 career

Projected Starters:

G – Justin Cobbs (15.3 PPG, 6.2 APG) vs. Jahii Carson (18.4 PPG, 4.6 APG)

G – Jordan Mathews (9.3 PPG, 33% 3PT) vs. Jermaine Marshall (14.6 PPG, 45% 3PT)

F – Tyrone Wallace (11.2 PPG, 31% 3PT) vs. Shaq McKissic (8.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG)

F – David Kravish (11.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG) vs. Eric Jacobsen (2.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG)

C – Richard Solomon (11.8 PPG, 10.6 RPG) vs. Jordan Bachynski (12.0 PPG, 4.4 BPG)

Why Cal Can Win:

This will be a matchup of two of the best point guards in all of college basketball, Justin Cobbs has been scintillating all season long and is one of the best passers around going against the lightning attack of Jahii Carson – the winner of this matchup will likely have a big impact on the winner of the game. The interior duo of Kravish and Solomon is maybe the most impressive in the Pac-12 in terms of physicality, rebounding and offensive prowess. If the Bears can keep Carson at bay and overpower an inexperienced Eric Jacobsen, they'll make it 12 straight at home.

Why ASU Can Win:

After a rough stretch, the Sun Devils are playing their best basketball of the season right now and Eric Jacobsen replacing Jon Gilling in the lineup has boosted both of their games while also giving ASU a much-needed physical presence inside. While the lineup change might be playing a big role, the real exciting factor is Jahii is looking like Jahii again and that is huge for the Devils as they fight for recognition. Arizona State can steal a win if Jahii Carson controls the game and limits turnovers while the perimeter trio of Marshall, McKissic and Gilling can get buckets inside and out.

Key Stat: ASU's future opponents are 98-35 (.737) against all D-I teams other than ASU, only two teams (Michigan & Texas Tech) have a tougher remaining schedule. With yet another questionable tournament resume at this point, the gauntlet that lies ahead is actually full of opportunities if you're the glass-half-full type of person.

X-Factor: Jon Gilling; since becoming the Sun Devils sixth man, the Danish Driller hasn't missed from deep – making all seven of this three point attempts. His 3PT shooting mark is over 46% and is one of the more versatile players in the Pac-12 averaging more than four rebounds and three assists per game. Notoriously streaky, Gilling's ability to stay consistent will be tested this weekend and if he can stay hot, the Sun Devils are exponentially more dangerous.

Final Score: ASU 68 Cal 66


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