LonghornDigest caught up with Hod Rabino of DevilsDigest.com for a closer look at an ASU team with plenty of weapons on the perimeter and a 7-foot-2 center patrolling the paint.
What are your initial thoughts when you look at this matchup?
"I think that under the circumstances that ASU did get a matchup that is in their favor and not all that difficult for a 10 seed. Obviously, ASU is a school, like Texas, that started the season much stronger than they ended it. I think Texas lost five of their last eight and Arizona State only won two of their last seven. So it's a team that's not entering the NCAA Tournament with any momentum. But since Texas is in the same boat I think that's comforting to Arizona State. Texas is a team that does really well on the boards, especially the offensive boards, and those are teams that have given ASU a lot of problems this season. On the other hand, ASU seems to be hitting the three-point shot better than Texas. There's no doubt in my mind that if ASU is going to win this game they are going to have to be on point from three and do what they can to keep Texas off the boards. But that might be easier said than done."
Is it one of those things where this team's goes as far as Jahii Carson is going to take them?
"I'd say yes and no. Two of their last three losses came against the Oregon schools and those are actually games where Carson showed up. But for the most part if he is having a bad game they need to rely on [center] Jordan Bachynski and Jermaine Marshall. When those players are not on their game, with or without Carson, it usually doesn't end in a victory for ASU."
What about Backynski? Texas has had plenty of experience going against guys with Bachynski's size. How does he matchup with Texas' frontcourt?
"Obviously he can block shots, but when he faced the more physical teams in the Pac 12 he definitely struggles more. He's not a frail guy by any means. But if you had a 6-10, 260 guy going against him that might present a challenge he could fall short on. With Jordan it's always been more of a mental issue. It's the consistency that's really plagued him, which he thought he had gotten over a few weeks ago. The last several weeks everything has come down to earth. He's not the player he was in December and January. The rebounding challenge on the defensive end is something Bachynski [averages 8.5 rebounds per game] is going to have to play at a higher level. It's really anybody's guess which Bachynski we will see today."
Were their any glaring trends over this current three-game losing streak that ASU is on that you noticed?
"I hate to harp on the rebounding but that's definitely a huge trend. They lost to everybody there on a consistent basis. They gave up way too many points in the paint. Basically they couldn't put the ball in the basket early in games. They've dug into holes where the other team is winning 9-0, 15-0 and spend all their energy trying to get out of those holes. In general, when things go down on the offensive side it's easy to let things slide on the defensive side. The good teams are able to put their foot down and still play really good defense. I don't think ASU has shown that ability the last couple of weeks."
Give me one guy that Texas needs to keep an eye out for today?"I talked about ASU needing to win this game with unbelievable outside shooting. When you talk about a player like that you talk about someone like Jonathan Gilling [49-of-121 from three-point range]. When you look at the box scores from beginning to end it's really one big roller coaster. More often than not, when his shot is on, it opens up everything. It opens the lane for Carson to operate. It gives more room for Jordan to get in the paint. I don't see ASU having that much success in the paint. So I think it's going to come to outside shooting and he is, by far, the best three-point shooter on the team."