Scouting Report: ASU

Arizona returns to the top of the polls and gets no break in the scheduling. The resurgent Sun Devils come to town with some confidence after splitting with the Wildcats a year ago. The Devils are off to a great start and would love to trip up the Wildcats. The Cats have Kansas on Saturday and if they are looking ahead they could be in trouble.

No. 1 Arizona (13-1, 6-0) vs. Arizona State (12-5, 4-2)
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2003
Time: 7:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: FSN (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)

This Scouting Report is sponsored by InnSuites Hotels. If you're coming to town for the game, business or pleasure, why not stay where all fans stay. Stay at the Inn Suites Hotels & Suites. For more information, click on the banner below.

LAST TIME OUT: The Wildcats handed the Bruins their worst loss at Pauley Pavilion with an 87-52 win. ASU lost a heartbreaker falling to USC by a pair, 76-74.

LAST MEETING: The Cats avenged a loss earlier in the year by beating ASU 73-56 in the Pac-10 Tournament.

BACKCOURT: Curtis Millage had a lot of success against the Cats last season. In the two regular season games the ASU guard averaged 23 ppg, but had only nine points in the Pac-10 Tournament loss. Millage was solid behind the arc against the Wildcats last year, but has struggled this season. He is under 30% from the outside so far this season.

"(Curtis) Millage is having a really good, solid year," Lute Olson said.

Jason Braxton joins Millage in the backcourt. The ASU point guard doesn't score much, and is actually second in the team in assists.

Kyle Dodd and Kenny Crandall come off the bench to give the Sun Devils good depth off the bench. Dodd did not endear himself to Wildcat fans after an altercation with Luke Walton.

The Sun Devils are a bad outside shooting team and need to get into the lane to score. Millage is the only guard to average in double figures. Dodd does shoot 60% but has only taken five three-pointers. No other perimeter player shoots over 30% from the outside.

The Devils are quick like the Wildcats and gave the Arizona guards some fits at times last year. The Devils will probably try to put some full-court pressure on the Wildcats. The Wildcat guards could have a field day if they can break the pressure. Salim Stoudamire is playing very well. His shot has returned as his ankle has healed. Jason Gardner is still struggling to find his shot, but is doing everything else very well.

"Defensively, they play pretty much full-court man pressure," Olson said. "They have shown some 2-3 zone, but I think, in our case, the biggest thing will be to make sure we meet the ball when coming off screens because they deny passes very well. They are very aggressive."

FRONTCOURT: This is the Sun Devils' strength. Freshman sensation Ike Diogu leads the team in scoring and has been a monster on the boards. He has scored in double figure all 17 games and averages 18.4 ppg. Diogu is strong and very tough to defend in the post.

"He's (Diogu) shooting very well from the line and the field," said Olson. "He's a big body that posts up well and can use both hands. They really look for him a lot. It's almost like every time down, he's going to get a touch.

"The biggest thing is that once you get behind him, it's very difficult to hold your position," Olson said. "If you get in front of him, he does a good job of moving you up the lane and they do a good job with their high-low passes. He has great hands. Pretty much everything he touches, he gets." Tommy Smith pairs with Diogu to form one of the better inside duos in the conference. Smith leads the team in rebounds, blocks and assists while averaging 10 ppg. Foul trouble has plagued Smith his entire career and he has a penchant for picking up silly fouls. He is very aggressive on the glass and is a solid defender.

"They have a nice balance there because if you try to help from the inside," Olson said. "Tommy Smith is one of the most talented players in the league. He is very dangerous when he puts it on the floor. He does a lot of driving to the basket and is active on the offensive boards. He and Diogu are going to be real keys from the four and five positions." Donell Knight rounds out the starting frontcourt and although he has never lived up to the hype he generated as a prep legend in Phoenix, he has been a solid contributor for the Devils.

"They've been using (Donnell) Knight, so they have some size at the three position that is very aggressive on the glass," Olson said.

Off the bench the Devils will go to Jamal Hill for instant scoring. He's the team's fourth leading scorer and splits time with Knight. Shawn Redhage is the first Sun Devil post player off the bench, while Chris Osborne has only seen limited time off the bench.

The Cats are doing an amazing job on the boards, out rebounding their opponents by 10 boards a game. Channing Frye has started to come around and Rick Anderson is always steady in the paint. With the physical forwards of ASU, Dennis Latimore and Isaiah Fox could get more time.

OUTLOOK: Olson has called this Rob Evans' best team at ASU and there is no doubt that they are very talented. The front court is very impressive and the guards have had success against the Wildcats. The Cats are more talented, but if they are looking ahead to Kansas they can be beat.

Wildcat Authority Top Stories