Duke (4-0) vs Arizona State (4-0)
New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
TV: ESPN2 / Tip: 9:00 PM EST
Program Vitals Conference: Pacific 10 Nickname: Sun Devils Colors: Maroon, Gold, and White Head Coach: Herb Sendek (4th season) Career Record at Arizona State: 55-45 (312-203 overall / 17 years)
Projected Starters: 25 Derek Glasser (6-1, 190, Sr.) – 10.5 ppg, 4.5 apg 30 Rihards Kuksiks (6-6, 210, Jr.) – 13.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg 2 Eric Boateng (6-10, 255, Sr.) – 11.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg 10 Jamelle McMillan (6-2, 180, Sr.) – 7.3 ppg, 3.5 apg 24 Trent Lockett (6-4, 211, Fr.) - 11.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg Key Reserves: 3 Ty Abbott (6-3, 205, Jr.) – 10.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg 40 Demetrius Walker (6-2, 195, Sr.) – 6.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg 23 Ruslan Pateev (7-0, 230, Fr.) – 4.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg 44 Jerren Shipp (6-3, 207, Sr.) - 4.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg 32 Taylor Rohde (6-8, 235, So.) - 5.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Story Lines For Arizona State:
How They Got Here:
Both teams enter the game with perfect starts and a short track record of dominating their opponents. The Sun Devils enter the game on a four game win streak that has included three games that have margins of victory of 27 or more. The only ASU game that has been tight was the NIT Regional final against Texas Christian which saw the teams go down to the wire with the Arizona State coming out on top by a 52-49 margin.
Meanwhile the Blue Devils have also been cruising along in the early going and seemed to pick up the pace in the last few games with the return of junior guard Nolan Smith who has averaged 22.0 points and 6.0 assists per game. In four games this season Duke's smallest margin of victory has been 25 points. The largest has been 42. The average has been 34.5 points per contest.
This will be the first time the two programs have met on the hardwood. Duke enters the game with a 20-2 all-time preseason NIT record including an 8-2 mark at Madison Square Garden. Currently the Blue Devils have won 10 straight tournament games and have claimed titles in 1985, 2000, and 2005. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has never faced ASU.
Through the 2007 season, the Sun Devils were a paltry 1-24 against top 25 opponents over the last 25 contests. However over the last three games the program has won twice with wins against seventh-ranked Stanford (72-68 in overtime on Feb. 14, 2008, and at ninth-ranked UCLA (Jan. 17, 2009). Coach Sendek has led ASU to six wins in his first three seasons over ranked teams. ASU won five games vs. ranked opponents in the 11 seasons prior to his arrival. Against Duke, Sendek has a 3-21 career record.
The Sun Devils enter Wednesday night's game relatively healthy. Ty Abbott missed just one game after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in mid-October and seems to be getting back in shape, averaging 10 points and going 7-10 from three.
The Blue Devils will be without starting big forward Mason Plumlee who is sidelined with an injured left wrist.
Solid Point Guard Play In The Desert
Senior lead guard Derek Glasser has a history of coming up big for the Sun Devils. Last year he earned all-Pac 10 Tournament honors by averaging 13.7 points in the three games. He shot 16-of-31 (.516) from the field, made 5-of-11 (.455) from the three-point stripe and had 12 assists and just four turnovers while averaging 37.3 minutes per game. He's carried that momentum through the summer workouts and into the new season where he's averaged 10.5 points and 4.5 assists per game while committing just 2.0 turnovers per contest. For his career, Glasser ranks sixth on the school's all-time assist list with 411. A dangerous perimeter threat, Glasser has hit 5 of his 11 shots from distance this season, which ranks him 10th on the all-time school list with 112 three pointers made over the course of his career.
Close Games Are Common:
Over the past two seasons the Sun Devils have been in a number of close games. Should they force Duke into a tight game down the stretch, it's clear that Arizona State won't be nervous. Over the last two years, the Sun Devils are 18-12 in games decided by 10 points or less. ASU is 6-2 in its past eight overtime games... in ASU's first season under Herb Sendek, it was 3-12 in two-possession games (six points or less), in the past two seasons it is 12-7 (6-3 past two seasons).
Athletic Freshman Is Big TIme:
Freshman Trent Lockett has not wasted any time in getting his name in the stat-sheet. The 6'4 power guard is averaging 11.3 points, 7.3 boards and is shooting 16-of-29 (.552) from the field. He also has a tendency to make "splash" plays as his leaping ability has allowed him to grab 13 offensive rebounds, resulting in several tip-dunks. In his last game, Lockett poured in 19 points to go along with 5 rebounds. A former four star prospect and the #21 overall shooting guard prospect from the class of 2009, Lockett picked the Sun Devils over offers from Colorado State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa State.
Both teams enter Wednesday night's game on the heels of tremendous performances form the perimeter in their last games. Amazingly enough both Duke and ASU knocked down a school record 18 three pointers in their last game. The performance tied a school record for Duke, while the Sun Devils set a new mark in their program's history. Rihards Kuksiks hit seven of those 18 perimeter shots on his way to a game high 27 points as ASU routed San Francisco by 39. Both teams have been very good from beyond the arc, with Duke going 43 of 94 (45.7 percent) and Arizona State making 38 of 77 (49.4).
Perhaps the most notable story line for Duke fans will be the return look at fifth year senior and one time Duke player Eric Boateng. The 6'11 starting center never made much of an impact at Duke - playing a total of 50 minutes during his freshman season - before transferring out. After sitting out a year and being a role player for two years in Tempe, Boateng appears to have put it all together as a fifth year senior. Having already completed his degree, he's had extra time to put in additional practice hours and it's paying off in droves. Boateng is averaging 11.5 points and eight boards while shooting 72 percent from the field (18-of-25) through four games. His best performance of the year came in the game the Sun Devils needed him the most. Against TCU, in the team's only close game this season, Boateng set career highs with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Watch Out For…
Junior swingman Rihards Kuksiks. The 6'6 sharpshooter is the third-best returning three-point shooter in the nation according to official NCAA statistics. Kuksiks was 93-of-210 from the arc last year, which was eighth in the nation. Only Jared Stohl of Portland (89-of-195 for .456) and Brandon Haz- zard of Troy (83-of-185 for .449) are returners with better averages from deep. Teams have been zeroing in on him for much of the early season before the 27 point outburst against San Francisco. In the first three games, however, he scored just 9.3 points per game. In his career, Kuksiks has knocked down 142 shots from the perimeter. This year he's hitting 52% of his attempts from downtown.
The Sun Devils will easily be the toughest test Duke has faced so far. Certainly Arizona State can, and will, attempt to match the Blue Devil perimeter attack. They also feature an experienced, steady senior point guard who won't be bothered by the Duke pressure. Or at least not intimidated by it. ASU's athleticism on the wing could give Duke some trouble as well. And then there is the motivation of Sendek and Boateng. Sendek's teams at NC State - especially in his later years - seemed to always play the Blue Devils tough. That theme will likely continue tonight. Look for a close game that won't be decided until midway through the second half. In the end, however, Duke's depth will likely be enough to overcome ASU.
Arizona State 66