Breakdown: Arizona vs. Arizona State

Arizona opens conference play against ASU on Sunday. Read on for more about the game, including statistics, a position breakdown, and score prediction.


Arizona State at Arizona
Jan. 4 at 5 pm
TV: Fox Sports One
McKale Center

ARIZONA

ARIZONA STATE
Overall Record
12-1 (.923)
8-5 (0.615)
Location Record
8-0 (1.000) at home
0-2 (.000) on the road
Scoring/G: PF&PA(Rank)
76.3 (35)
60.3 (55)
73.5 (65)
63.2 (119)
Rebound Margin/G: RM (Rank)
6.7 (38)
5.7 (59)
Steals/G:
S (Rank)
8.4 (40)
6.2 (215)
Assists/G: A(Rank)
15.3 (54)
14.8 (68)
Field-Goal Percentage: FG%(Rank)
50.1 (14)
46.7 (57)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 3FG%(Rank)
37.4 (68)
39.1 (31)
Field-Goal Percentage Against: FG%(Rank)
39.4 (70)
41.2 (142)
Ranking:
Coaches' Poll
#8
N/A
Ranking:
AP Poll
#8
N/A
RPI
11 (.6461)
150 (.5106)
Point Guard

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
PG: T.J. McConnell (6-1, 195, Sr.) vs. Gerry Blakes (6-4, 195, Jr.)

Blakes got the start against Harvard and proceeded to play 37 minutes and put up 17 shots, making five. He may start at the point, but he is more of a shooting guard. However, the Sun Devils needs his scoring and size and that is something Sendek is willing to live with. McConnell is the better point guard and should be able to guard Blakes. As long as McConnell keeps him in check, Arizona will have the advantage here.

Shooting Guard

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SG: Stanley Johnson (6-7, 245, Fr.) vs. Roosevelt Scott (6-3, 180, Jr.)

Scott did not play many minutes this season until the last two games when he played 38 against Harvard and 22 against Detroit. Sendek decided that he needed Scott’s athleticism at the two guard spot and it is a move that has worked nicely. Scott is not close to Johnson as a scorer, but he is a solid defender that rebounds well. The interesting aspect here, figuring Arizona goes with the lineup change we’re predicting, is that Johnson has a major size and strength advantage and should be able to take advantage of it against Scott.

Small Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SF: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (6-7, 220, So.) vs. Shaquielle McKissic (6-5, 200, Sr.)

It makes sense to start Hollis-Jefferson in Arizona’s first Pac-12 game, especially coming off a loss, which is why we are predicting a move is made. In addition, Arizona matches up much better with the Sun Devils this way. McKissic has improved his shot, but we still would not consider him a shooter. Hollis-Jefferson should be able to guard him as long as he does not get in foul trouble. McKissic is one of ASU’s most valuable players, so the easy choice is to put Arizona's best defender on him.

Power Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
PF: Brandon Ashley (6-9, 230, Jr.) vs. Savon Goodman (6-6, 215, So.)

To he blunt, Ashley needs to play better defensively. This is different than the previous two games that have given Ashley trouble only because Goodman is not a great shooter and does not have the size of Vincent Hunter and Christian Wood. Simply put, if Ashley can’t handle himself defensively here, it will be a long season for him in that area. Goodman has played well in his last three games, but he only had 10 and 8 against a Harvard squad that was far and away better than the two previous opponents. There’s no reason to think Arizona can’t at least contain him.

Center

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 245, Jr.) vs. Eric Jacobsen (6-10, 255, Jr.)

Jacobsen has been a much better player this season, especially on the glass. He is averaging ten points per game and seven rebounds while seeing his minutes triple from last season. In fact, he is probably one of the bigger surprises in the conference and deserves credit for it. Jacobsen is going to see his points hard to come by on Sunday because Tarczewski should be able to defend him and tends to do better when he goes up against bigger bodies. Tarczewski does need to be careful to stay out of foul trouble, but it is much more likely that Tarczewski plays better than Jacobsen than the other way around.

Bench

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
Bench: ASU basically decided to make major lineup changes and the guys that once got a decent amount of minutes aren’t necessarily getting them any more. For instance, Jonathan Gilling is averaging 21 minutes per game, but only has a combined 12 minutes the last two games. Bo Barnes is averaging 20 minutes, but only got ten against Harvard. You can keep going for a few more as well. Arizona has done well with Gilling in the past and none of the other players are major threats as long as the Wildcats don’t break down.
Coaching

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Herb Sendek

At the very least, Sendek deserves credit for being willing to make major changes in order to improve his team. We don’t know how much they really work until the Sun Devils face Arizona, but the moves have been made. Miller is the better coach and nobody would argue that point, but that does not mean Sendek is a bad fit for the Sun Devils.

Outcome

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
73
58
Prediction: Arizona State is not a great shooting team and if Arizona is going to lose more games this season, it is probably going to be against a team that generally shoots well. The shots that ASU has been able to get close to the basket and in the lane aren’t going to be there against Arizona. We would not be surprised at a slow start because of the break, but have a feeling that the Wildcats know exactly what they have to do coming off a loss.

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