Most recent game:
The Wildcats (18-8, 10-7) comfortably beat Washington State (12-15, 6-11) in Tucson last weekend, 60-72. Salim Stoudamire returned from a one game suspension to lead the way with 21 points, including 16 in the second half. The win was the Wildcats' 38th in a row against the Cougars. Stoudamire also contributed greatly on the defensive end, holding WSU's star, Marcus Moore, to only five points on 2-11 shooting, which was especially impressive considering that the two previous times Moore went against the Cats he went for 36 and 29 points, respectively. Channing Frye also had a strong game, adding 20 points. Andre Iguodala did his best Windex impersonation, cleaning the glass for 16 rebounds in addition to his 12 points. Finally, Hassan Adams chipped in double digits as well, tallying 11 points in the contest.
The Sun Devils (10-16, 4-13) honored their four seniors by including them in the starting lineup against the Washington Huskies (15-10, 11-6). It was a very nice gesture by Coach Rob Evans and a very good way for him to show his appreciation for the positive things that Kenny Crandall, Brandon Goldman, Justin Allen, and Jamal Hill have done for the program. Unfortunately, that and Ike Diogu's 27 points were the only positive happenings on Ned Wulk court last Saturday. The Huskies jumped out to a 15-point lead at the intermission, on their way to a sound beating of the Sun Devils, 96-72. Jamal Hill made his presence felt, complimenting Diogu with 14 points and Steve Moore added 10 points in defeat. As with many games this year, ASU's defense let them down as five Huskies scored in double digits for Lorenzo Romar's ball club. The victory allowed Washington to remain by their lonesome in the conference's second place.
Sun Devil shooters vs. UA's collapsing defense: Does this sound familiar? ASU's outside shooting is a key in every game because Diogu demands so much attention on the blocks. If the Sun Devils want any chance to remain in this game, shooters like Jamal Hill, Kevin Kruger, Steve Moore, and even Jason Braxton are going to have to hit some shots.
Jason Braxton vs. Salim Stoudamire: Most Wildcat fans will tell you that as Stoudamire goes, so do the Cats. In Tempe, Stoudamire heated up early and forced ASU to extend their defense. Once the Devils did this, UA was able to attack the middle of the defense with dribble drives and passes to Frye on the block. Braxton is the only defender on the Sun Devils who is fast and nimble enough to keep up with Stoudamire coming off of the multiple picks the Cats will set for him. If he is not able to hold Stoudamire somewhat in check, the Devils will once again be in for a long night.
Nothing to lose vs. must win: ASU is playing for pride and next year only. They have no post-season aspirations. There is some bubble talk about Arizona right now and losing this game would definitely turn up the volume on those voices. The main question is how will UA come out? If they play the game like they can, ASU has virtually zero chance to win. However, if the Cats are at all tentative and ASU comes out loose and with reckless abandon, the game could be interesting.
§ Only two current Sun Devils have played in a game in which they defeated Arizona, Jason Braxton and Kenny Crandall. Both were part of the 88-72 victory in Tempe two years ago.
§ ASU has utilized thirteen different starting lineups this season. It should be noted that none worked very well.
§ Arizona leads the conference in scoring, ringing up opponents for 87.2 points per game. ASU is sixth with a 73.8 ppg average.
§ Arizona is second in the conference from long distance, shooting at a 39.0% pace from behind the arc. The Sun Devils are seventh, with a 33.2% average.
§ The Wildcats out-rebound their opponents by over five boards per game.
§ Ike Diogu has not yet been held under double digit scoring in his two full seasons at ASU. The Wildcats will attempt to be the first to do so.
Mercifully, the Sun Devils' season comes to an end on Saturday. The winning team is not difficult to choose, but the scoring margin is. Arizona should and will win this game. The Sun Devils, outside of a spirited second half against Stanford, have not shown the ability to hang with ranked opponents all season. The real issue may be whether the Devils just go through the motions or put up a solid fight. I think they will do the latter, but the score still won't be that close. Arizona State 68, Arizona 84.
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