ASU - Nebraska Preview

The Sun Devils of Arizona State travel to Lincoln, Nebraska this Sunday to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the inaugural Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. The maroon and gold will play in their first road game of the season, and will look to tack on to their four game-wining streak.

After a rough start to the season against Illinois in the opening round of the Maui Invitational, the Sun Devils have rolled off four consecutive impressive victories. In Maui, ASU got trounced by the experienced Fighting Illini 74-51 but the team bounced back strong with a convincing 61-42 victory over Princeton and finished the tournament in 5th place with a thrilling 87-84 overtime victory over a quality team in LSU. Back on the mainland, the Sun Devils won their home opener against Cal Poly, 75-41 and followed that win with an equally dominant 91-59 victory over Division I newbies, Florida Gulf Coast.

The Cornhuskers have an identical 4-1 record in the early going and are led by Australian C Aleks Maric and swingman Ade Dagunduro. Last season, Nebraska finished 17-14, which placed them seventh in the Big 12. This will be the sixth all-time meeting between the two teams with the Devils holding a slight 3-2 lead in the series with the last meeting a 66-60 win for the Big Red in the preseason NIT in 2003.

Head Coach Doc Sadler

Projected Starters

PG – Cookie Miller – (6.0 PPG, 3.6 APG)
SG – Jay-R Strowbridge – (5.6 PPG, 2.8 APG)
SF – Ryan Anderson – (8.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG)
PF – Ade Dagunduro – (9.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG)
C – Aleks Maric – (16.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG)

Impact Reserves

G – Steve Harley
G – Sek Henry
F – Shang Ping

Overview

In the first ever Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Classic, the young but talented Sun Devils will play their first true road game in Lincoln. With three freshmen in the starting backcourt and experience in the frontcourt, the Sun Devils have shown the capability to be extremely dangerous shooting from the outside and have also had success feeding to rock to their big men.

Guards

The Sun Devils start three freshmen in the backcourt: James Harden, Jamelle McMillan, and Ty Abbott. The two leading scorers for ASU are Harden (17.6 PPG) and Abbott (11.7 PPG) with McMillan and Sophomore Derek Glasser taking turns at the point. Coming off the bench to provide relief for Harden and Abbott will be Christian Polk, the Sun Devils' leading scorer from a year ago who has thus far this season blossomed as a quality 6th man. The Huskers use a small lineup and diminutive Cookie Mitchell leads the charge with Anderson, Strowbridge, Henry, and Harley all getting plenty of minutes on the wings. Nebraska is a quick team that can push the tempo but the Sun Devils are more athletic and have better scoring options.

Strong Edge – ASU

Forwards

With both teams playing small ball, the forward position will be the least prevalent in the game. For ASU, Jerren Shipp and Antwi Atuahene will play big and freshmen Kraidon Woods and Rihards Kuksiks can also play capably along the center duo of Jeff Pendergraph and Eric Boateng. Atuahene and Woods are better options on the interior while Shipp and Kuksiks are better on the perimeter and creating mismatches with bigger, slower opponents. Nebraska will counter with Dagunduro and Ping off the bench. Dagunduro is slashing type that could create problems for the Sun Devils.

Edge - Nebraska

Centers

Jeff Pendergraph and Eric Boateng are two behemoths underneath wreck havoc for teams, such as Nebraska, lacing dominant inside presence. Pendergraph is a great all-around player with a solid mid-range touch and is a premier rebounder. Boateng has looked stiff in his return to court after a year off due to transferring. He has appeared more comfortable on defense than on offense but looks to be coming around on the other side of the court as well. Maric is one of the Big 12's finest players and will be a handful for ASU to handle.

Slight Edge – ASU

Final Score – Arizona State 70 Nebraska 65

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