Alabama State Preview

Arizona State was a hot topic on Selection Sunday and unfortunately, not for the right reasons. The Sun Devils are arguably the best team that was left out of the NCAA Tournament and experts and analysts voiced their dismay. But there is a bright side, as they get a top-seed in the NIT they will host the Alabama State Hornets, the SWAC regular season champions.

The Sun Devils may have had their best chance to join the field of 65 taken away from them when a controversial call cost ASU the game in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament against USC. With the Trojans up two and 16 seconds left in the game, Jeff Pendergraph followed a James Harden miss with a dunk but was called for over the back on USC's Davon Jefferson.

The call was a bit mysterious and players, coaches, and analysts watching the replays all questioned the officiating but what's done is done, the Sun Devils lost the game and consequently missed the NCAA Tournament.

Let's all take a step back and look at the last two seasons before we completely jump ship here. After an 8-22 campaign a season ago, ASU stormed back in Sendek's second season to win 14 of their first 16 and finished with 19 wins. We all thought the NCAA Tournament was within reach but even that in itself is an accomplishment we should all be proud of. Led by Harden and Pendergraph, the future of this team hasn't looked this bright in decades and with both stars likely returning next season, the ceiling for the potential might get blown off.

Head Coach – Lewis Jackson

Projected Starters

PG – Brandon Brooks – (9.4 PPG, 6.2 APG)
SG – Andrew Hayles – (14.7 PPG, 39% 3PT)
SF – Rashad Provitt – (4.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG)
PF – Brandon Gordon – (9.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG)
C – Richard Lott – (6.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG)

Impact Reserves

G – Jamar Sanders
F – Joel Bosh
F – Roland Fitch
C – Chief Kickingstallionsims

Backcourt

This is a game where the Sun Devils really should dominate. The Hornets had a great season but played very few teams that muster credibility. Leading the Hornets on the floor will be Brandon Brooks, the team's third leading scorer that dishes the ball extremely well. Alongside Brooks will the team's leading scorer, Andrew Hayles. Hayles is the only player on the team that averages in double figures.

For the Sun Devils, Derek Glasser will run the offense with Ty Abbott on the wing. Although Brooks has had a great year, Glasser should be able to frustrate him with his fluidity and heads-up play. Abbott is a wild-card like always because he is a streaky shooter that can go off for 20 points or struggle to score six points.

Slight Edge – Arizona State

Frontcourt

On the Hornets starting line, they are not a big team which could be extremely beneficial for the Sun Devils. The starting frontcourt of Gordon, Lott, and Provitt are all 6'7. Gordon and Lott are the senior leaders of this team and Gordon is the team's second leading scorer. The Sun Devils will counter with Harden, Rihards Kuksiks, and Jeff Pendergraph. Harden should be able to scorch this defense and Pendergraph should be able to use his superior size and ability to overpower the Hornets underneath but my gut feeling is that Kuksiks will give the Hornets the most trouble.

Alabama State likely hasn't seen much of Arizona State and are going to put their main focus on Harden and Pendergraph and if that's the case, Kuksiks may be left alone and be able to get open shots all night.

Solid Edge – Arizona State

Bench

Alabama State has nine guys averaging over 15 minutes a game which tells me they are a deep team and their biggest area of depth is in the frontcourt. Starters for most of the year, Joel Bosh and Chief Kickingstallionsims will get big minutes off the bench if Pendergraph is too strong for the undersized starters to handle. For the Sun Devils, the bench is full of versatility with Jerren Shipp and Antwi Atuahene able to play just about any role with Jamelle McMillan backing up the point and Eric Boateng backing up at center.

Edge – Even

Final Score – Arizona State 75 Alabama State 52

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