Arizona State Frontcourt Preview

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

In a lot of ways, Arizona State's four-out type lineups resemble what Texas faced against West Virginia and Iowa State. But one of the primary differences is that the Sun Devils also happen to have a big-time post player and shot-blocker in Jordan Bachynski (7-2 248).

While point guard Jahii Carson might be the most important player to many, Bachynski certainly isn't far behind, if behind at all. He averages 4.1 blocks per game, and his 12.7 block rate — translated to, he blocks 12.7 percent of a team's shots when he's on the floor — ranks top-10 nationally. He blocked eight shots in Arizona State's huge overtime win over now-No. 1 seed Arizona.

But he also isn't a one-trick pony. Bachynski averages 11.1 points per game, and he displays the ability to score in the mid-range as well. Additionally, he grabs 8.3 rebounds per game, gobbling up 20.9 percent of the available defensive rebounds, a top-150 mark nationally.

The last several games, Arizona State has started Eric Jacobsen (6-10 235) next to Bachynski, though he's actually been playing way fewer minutes than stretch four Jonathan Gilling (6-7 219), and word out of Milwaukee is that Gilling could wind up getting the start, especially after averaging 12.8 points per game over his last four contests.

To call Gilling a stretch four would be an understatement. While most players who fit that description spend quite a bit of time inside, then balance that out to hit from the outside, Gilling is almost exclusively an outside player, taking just 38 two-point shots and making only 14 of them (36.8 percent). At the same time, he took 146 three-pointers this year, making 62 (42.5 percent), making him much more dangerous from the outside.

Interestingly enough, the Sun Devils will go through phases where they sit Bachynski and go with a five-out approach with Gilling as the "center." As a matter of fact, in the last five games, using wing Shaquille McKissic (6-5 200) as the four and Gilling at the five has been the third-most used lineup by the Sun Devils, with Arizona State employing that lineup 10 percent of the time.

Those lineups fit better with the drive-and-kick nature of Carson's game in that they put extra shooters out to space the floor, whereas neither Bachynski, nor Jacobsen, has even attempted a three-pointer this season. Jacobsen is available as Bachynski's backup, or if the Sun Devils wish to go big, but the sophomore has struggled this year, putting up the team's highest turnover rate and committing a whopping 8.9 fouls per 40 minutes. He is the team's highest percentage offensive rebounder, and he does have the team's best free throw rate. But there's still a significant drop off from Bachynski's overall game and Gilling's offense when Jacobsen comes into the ball game. And even though Jacobsen is 6-foot-10, McKissic actually is a better defensive rebounder.

Bachynski is one of the team's best players and the primary reason Arizona State has a top-35 ranked defense. Gilling is a tremendous outside shooter. But if Texas can get either player in foul trouble, the Sun Devils don't really have the depth down low to compete.

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