Oregon State Preview

Over halfway through the Pac-10 slate, there are still more questions than answers around the league and no one is running away with the lead. The Arizona State Sun Devils (16-8,6-5) return home to face the Oregon State Beavers (10-12,4-6) on Thursday night.

The Sun Devils are coming off one of their worst losses in the Herb Sendek era while the Beavers are riding high after completing a season sweep of their arch-rivals, the Oregon Ducks.

Road games in conference are always tough to win but in Pullman, the Devils have an especially hard time. The Devils snapped a six year drought in the Palouse to beat the Cougars of Washington State in the first tilt of the trip before heading to Seattle for the slaughter.

Against Washington, the Devils led 2-0 before the wheels decided to completely fall off. It was just one of those nights. Nothing fell for ASU and everything seemed to work for UW. The Huskies were led by 17 apiece from Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter. The lone bright spot for ASU was Demetrius Walker who had 14 points in 15 minutes off the bench – a performance that could lead to more playing time.

In a somewhat disappointing season thus far, the Beavers have to be thrilled that they are the kings of Oregon after completing the season sweep of the Ducks in triumphant fashion with 62-42 shellacking. Omari Johnson led three Beavers in double figures with 18 points as OSU held the Ducks to 29% shooting from the floor and just 17 second half points.

Projected Starters

G – Jared Cunningham – (4.9 PPG, 1.0 APG) vs. Derek Glasser (10.0 PPG, 5.0 APG)

G – Calvin Haynes – (13.0 PPG, 41% 3PT) vs. Jamelle McMillan (7.5 PPG, 40% 3PT)

G – Seth Tarver – (10.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG) vs. Ty Abbott (11.8 PPG, 45% 3PT)

F – Omari Johnson – (4.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG) vs. Rihards Kuksiks (12.4 PPG, 39% 3PT)

F – Roeland Schaftenaar – (8.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG) vs. Eric Boateng (8.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG)

Backcourt

Beavers' coach, Craig Robinson has start mixing and matching as of late to find a good mesh and he has found success with putting Josh Tarver on the bench and replacing him with Jared Cunningham to lead the show. A better playmaker, Cunningham is a more offensive-minded player that can create more for Haynes and Seth Tarver while also showing he is capable of going to the rack himself. Lathen Wallace gets good minutes off the bench as well.

Robinson isn't the only one changing things up in the backcourt. In recent weeks, Sendek has brought Glasser off the bench and given Trent Lockett more starts to try to spark the offense the bit. Either way, Glasser and McMillan run the show while Abbott is the best scoring option. Lockett and Walker are both dynamic players whose energy can really ignite the offense when it gets into a lull.

Edge – ASU

Frontcourt

In the Oregon game, Omari Johnson really came out of nowhere to put a season-high of 18 on the board. He is more of a perimeter player but in a small lineup, he plays down low. Next to him is Schaftenaar, a player who played real well a year ago that has yet to truly find a rhythm this season. He is a tall presence but hardly physical. Off the pine will be Daniel Deane and Joe Burton to provide interior depth.

After a few weeks of Pac-10 play, a lot of talk around ASU was that Kuksiks was the new go-to guy but he has cooled a little bit in recent weeks but all is not lost as is frontcourt mate, Eric Boateng, is playing his most consistent ball of the season. In his last 4 games, the Big Boat has put up 12.2 PPG with almost 9 RPG as well. In this contest, he should be able to muscle up the weaker Schaftenaar. Taylor Rohde, Victor Rudd, Ruslan Pateev, and Jerren Shipp will all spell relief throughout the contest.

Edge – ASU

X-Factor

It's not a sexy pick but the home-court advantage is going to be important. The Beavers have just won two games away from home all year while the Devils are 12-3 at home. ASU hasn't been all that great this year against good teams but boy, have they smashed their weaker opponents. That trend must continue.

Who Will Win and Why

If ASU wants to be in the conversation for the Pac-10 title, winning games against lower-tier teams is mandatory. Boateng should be a force inside against a thin Beaver front line and Abbott will have more opportunities than he did in Seattle. It should be a business-like bruising.

Prediction

ASU 64 OSU 54


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