Oregon Preview

What a difference a weekend can make. Two weeks ago, the Arizona State Sun Devils (12-5, 2-2) limped home after an uninspiring weekend sweep in LA only to come out and smash the Washington schools in convincing fashion to even up their conference slate. Now ASU hits the road again to Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks (10-5, 2-1) on Thursday night in their final game at legendary Mac Court.

The Sun Devils scrapped their anemic offensive game plan upon returning home and installed a more freestyle motion system that helped spread the ball around and get Rihards Kuksiks and Ty Abbott more scoring opportunities.

Against Washington, the Devils set the tone early and beat the Huskies 68-51, led by 27 from Kuksiks. While the Latvian didn't have the same level of personal success in the following game against Washington State, his teammates turned it up another notch and ASU stomped the Cougars 71-46 to cap of a resounding successful weekend.

Ernie Kent's team is doing their damndest to be the poster child of the 2010 Pac-10 season. After an impressive road sweep against the Washington schools; they came home to get beaten by their archrivals Oregon State. The same Oregon State team that had just lost by 51 points at home to Seattle University and that wasn't Elgin Baylor's Seattle squad.

Head Coach – Ernie Kent (318-242) vs. Herb Sendek (320-206)

Projected Starters

G – Malcolm Armstead – (11.5 PPG, 4.5 APG) vs. Derek Glasser (10.7 PPG, 4.9 APG)

G – Tajuan Porter – (14.1 PPG, 38% 3PT) vs. Jamelle McMillan (8.1 PPG, 42% 3PT)

G/F – Jamil Wilson – (5.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG) vs. Ty Abbott (9.1 PPG, 40% 3PT)

F – E.J. Singler – (5.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG) vs. Rihards Kuksiks (12.1 PPG, 38% 3PT)

F – Michael Dunigan – (12.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG) vs. Eric Boateng (7.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG)

Backcourt

While it seems like Porter has been in college forever, he is still a very dangerous scorer in the mold of fellow Pac-10 players Jerome Randle and Isaiah Thomas in that he is a playmaker with unlimited range. Porter is tough player to defend because his size is a non-issue thanks to his quickness. A player that has really opened eyes has been Armstead; a solid PG that has been clutch for a team that was very mistake prone a season ago. Off the bench are Teondre Williams and Garrett Sim. Both players get plenty of minutes and have experience in big game situations; a big plus for a conference that isn't strong in depth.

ASU counters with Glasser, McMillan, and Abbott as they look to continue their newfound offensive success. Glasser has actually been a bit cold of late but McMillan has played very smart basketball while Abbott has been a great swing man with his solid shooting and strong play in the paint. In relief, the Devils will turn to Trent Lockett; the true freshman is coming into his own lately and his offensive spark helps give the regulars a little more rest than usual.

Edge - ASU

Frontcourt

Heavily recruited a few years ago, Michael Dunigan struggled mightily in his freshman campaign for a bevy of reasons; youth, immaturity, discipline, etc. This year, Dunigan is starting to show his unbelievable potential with a dizzying array of moves in the paint and a more fundamental approach to defense and rebounding. Next to him will be E.J. Singler (Kyle's little brother) and Jamil Wilson. Two players who don't get a ton of looks on the offensive end but fill the stat sheet. LeKendric Longmire comes off the bench but has the skills of a starter.

Kuksiks is having a Jekyll & Hyde season so it might be a good thing he had an off game against Wazzu; that has to mean he is prime for another big game against the Ducks, right? If Kuksiks finds his stroke early on, the Ducks will be in trouble. What will give them even more trouble is if Eric Boateng can force the defense to account for him every possession. His rebounding will be crucial against Dunigan. Ruslan Pateev is starting to prove that he can be a valuable contributor when relieving Boateng.

Edge - Even

X-Factor

Maroon jerseys. It's been almost a year since the Sun Devils won wearing their road uniforms. Unfortunately, the color of their shirts isn't why this team has struggled on the road for as long as anyone can remember. This is a down year in the conference and 12 wins might just get the job done. ASU has proven they can beat anyone at Wells Fargo Arena but they can't take it to the next level until they start winning on the road.

Who Will Win and Why

Let's see how this little offensive switch really works by taking the show on the road. It's easy to pick the home team in this one especially when that team was just embarrassed at home by their rivals but Herb Sendek's teams are never going to be outcoached or unprepared and the team who makes the fewest mistakes in this game should prevail. The Devils will win in dramatic fashion.

ASU 65 Oregon 62


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