Colorado Preview

As the latter half of the Pac-12 schedule pushes on, the Arizona State Sun Devils (19-6, 8-4 Pac-12) head to the mountains to take on the Colorado Buffaloes (19-7, 8-5) in Boulder in a matchup of two teams looking for both their 20th wins on the season but also another solid win for their NCAA Tournament resume.

Colorado has won four of their last five games and will look to stay hot when the desert teams come to town. It seems as if the Buffaloes have finally overcome the loss of their star player, Spencer Dinwiddie lost to injury during the January 12th game at Washington and much like ASU are now trying to secure a spot in the top four in the league and get that coveted first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament. Colorado split its road games at the Los Angeles schools losing 92-74 to UCLA and beating USC 83-74.

It does not get much better for Arizona State than to beat your arch rival at home on ESPN in double-overtime and watching the sold-out crowd rush the court. In a defensive struggle, ASU prevailed over Arizona in double overtime by a score of 69-66. The Carson, Marshall and Bachynski trifecta combined to score 59 of the team's 69 points with Marshall hitting a number of huge shots while Bachynski's swat of T.J. McConnell in the game's waning seconds sealed the deal for the Devils.

In their first meeting, the Devils pounded the lethargic Buffaloes by a 72-51 tally. Jahii Carson scored 18 points while Jon Gilling poured in 12 of his own but CU's demise was shooting just 18% from deep and missing 15 free throws in 24 tries.

Beating Arizona is a great boost to anyone's season but the Sun Devils looking down the barrel of a very tough stretch of game to close out the regular season, the win was that much more crucial. Securing a sweep of the mountain schools will likely elevate ASU into the national rankings while even just a split will keep them on track to go dancing.

Head Coach:

Tad Boyle: 5th season at CU – 85-40; 140-106 career

Herb Sendek: 8th season at ASU – 138-113; 392-271 career

Projected Starters:

G – Askia Booker (14.4 PPG, 3.5 APG) vs. Jahii Carson (19.0 PPG, 4.8 APG)

G – Jaron Hopkins (5.3 PPG, 28% 3PT) vs. Jermaine Marshall (16.2 PPG, 44% 3PT)

F – Xavier Johnson (12.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG) vs. Shaq McKissic (8.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG)

F – Wesley Gordon (6.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG) vs. Eric Jacobsen (2.6 PPG, 2.1 RPG)

C – Josh Scott (14.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG) vs. Jordan Bachynski (12.2 PPG, 4.6 BPG)

Why Colorado Can Win:

Spencer Dinwiddie going down was a tragic blow to Tad Boyle's boys but the sign of a good team is that when one player goes down, everyone else steps up to replace the missing piece. Jaron Hopkins has been a serviceable replacement on the perimeter but the real story is the elevated games of Askia Booker and Xavier Johnson. Two guys who were excellent role players for the Buffs have turned into go-to guys for CU and are legitimate threats to take over a game.

Why ASU Can Win:

This team is playing with confidence and a lot of the key guys on this team have won in Boulder before. While the Buffs have played well without their star player, the Devils defense has to force Colorado to settle for shots along the perimeter and cannot let Scott have his way. If the defense is able to dictate the tempo and the trio of Carson, Marshall and Bachynski can all have a productive evening – the Devils will take another big step in the right direction.

Key Stat: 5-1; ASU is now 5-1 in games decided by five points or less. Good teams know how to win close games. Three of those five wins have come on game-winning blocks by Jordan Bachysnki. With five wins in six close games, the Devils are showing the NCAA Tournament committee that they are well deserving of a ticket to the dance.

X-Factor: Jahii Carson's Jump Shot; one of the fastest men to grace a basketball court in all of college basketball, Carson's unparalleled athleticism is what separates him from the rest. That being said, when you're shy of six-feet, your attack has to be consistent from all over the floor and not just getting into the lane. Shooting just 30% from deep in Pac-12 play, Carson can take this game to a higher level if his shots start falling which will open up the lane for him.

Final Score: ASU 72 CU 66


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