Arizona State Backcourt Preview

Looking at Arizona State's backcourt ahead of Texas's NCAA Tournament matchup in the Round of 64.

* Unless otherwise noted, statistics are pulled from and

Arizona State isn't especially deep in the backcourt; the Sun Devils largely play four guard/wing players per game, with one of them, Shaquielle McKissic (6-5 200), playing the a small-ball four on occasion as well. But what they lack in depth, they make up for in talent and production.

At the head of it all is Jahii Carson (5-10 180), an undersized playmaker who uses a whopping 31.4 percent of Arizona State's possessions when he's on the floor. He isn't necessarily the most efficient scorer, as he takes a bulk of his shots from inside the arc, where he shoots 44.6 percent. He's actually an excellent three-point shooter at 39.1 percent, though he only makes about one three per game.

Instead, 379 of his 471 shot attempts (80.5 percent) come from two-point range. Why is that a problem? Because Carson took almost twice as many two-point jumpers as he did three-pointers … and he's actually a worse shooter from mid-range, making just 35.1 percent of his two-point jump shots.

But Carson is capable of scoring at a high rate, as evidenced by the 40 points he dropped on UNLV and the 18.7 points per game he averaged over the course of this season. And he's far from a one-track player: his forays into the lane often create opportunities for other players, as you can tell by his 29.1 assist rate, 97th in the country. He's needed to play a ton of minutes, and while he draws a bunch of fouls, he doesn't commit very many, allowing him to log 40 minutes, as he did in Arizona State's last game against Stanford.

Carson's ability to drive and dish wouldn't be nearly as effective without the shooters to take advantage of it. And in Jermaine Marshall (6-4 215), he has an effective running mate who averages 15.5 points per game. Marshall takes a whopping 55.9 percent of his shots from behind the arc, where he shoots better than 40 percent. And he's not an off-the-dribble type guy: 91 percent of his made three-pointers this year were assisted.

Because of his catch-and-shoot nature, Marshall doesn't commit many turnovers, and he takes 26 percent of Arizona State's shots while using just 22.0 percent of its possessions.

Those two make up the bulk of the Sun Devils' offense; no other regular uses more than 18.3 percent of possessions or takes more than 16.9 percent of the team's shots.

McKissic plays a hybrid 3-4 depending on the group he's with. In Arizona State's two most popular lineups (making up 41.8 percent of on-court time) used the last five games, McKissic played the small forward. Unlike so many other parts of the team, he's not a great three-point shooter at 33.3 percent, and he utilizes his slashing ability to get to the rim, where he takes 54.5 percent of his shots. He shoots 61.2 percent at the rim, a mark that is slightly above the D1 average and is also slightly above Arizona State's 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski. So he wants to get to the rim, and when he does, he finishes well. McKissic is a nice complementary piece on this team, a do-it-all piece who is Arizona State's most efficient offensive player, but a guy who also rebounds well (15.4 percent defensive rebounding rate) and passes well (17.5 assist rate). Together with Carson, he allows the Sun Devils to penetrate and pitch.

When the Sun Devils turn to the bench, they look at sixth-man Bo Barnes (6-4 195) on the wing. Barnes is another efficient piece who shoots better than 40 percent from three. Per both True Shooting Percentage and Effective Field Goal Percentage, Barnes is the team's top shooter. He's a three and at the rim type guy, only taking 9.8 percent of his shots on two-point jumpers. And he doesn't create his own shot, as 90.5 percent of his threes were assisted and even 72.7 percent of his looks at the rim were assisted.

That's the four-man backcourt that Texas will face on Thursday, a group with a ton of pop, particularly from the outside, but low on number of players.

Horns Digest Top Stories