UW vs. ASU Basketball Preview

USA TODAY Sports

The Huskies are set to face the Arizona State Sun Devils tonight at Wells Fargo Arena at 5 PM on ESPNU

The Match Up: Washington Huskies at Arizona State Sun Devils

Game Info: 1/2/2014- 5:00 PM tip off at Wells Fargo Arena

TV Info: ESPNU Radio: Sports Radio KJR 950

Record: 2012-13: 22-13 Current Record: 11-2

Coach: The Sun Devils are coached by Herb Sendek who is in his 8th season with the Sun Devils and 21st as Division 1 head coach.  Sendek is 131-111 with the Sun Devils and 385-269 for his career. Before joining the Sun Devils, Sendek spent 10 years as the head coach at North Carolina State and 3 years at Miami of Ohio.

Series: The Huskies are 39-37 overall against the Sun Devils in a series that began on November 28, 1977.  The UW is currently on a seven game win streak against the Sun Devils and has won six out of their last 7 at Wells Fargo Arena. Lorenzo Romar is 19-6 against the Sun Devils during his time at UW; Sendek is 4-10 against the huskies.

Scouting Report: ASU

-Coming into the season, ASU was picked to finish 7th in the Pac-12, but has definitely exceeded expectations to start the season.  This year looks to be a make or break year for ASU, who starts three seniors, as well as Jahii Carson, who already plans on declaring for the NBA after this season.

- The Sun Devils like to push the pace averaging 79.3 points per game, which ranks 52nd in the NCAA.  Sendek used to play a half court game, but switched to a faster pace with the arrival of Carson, and has his highest scoring offense in his eight year tenure with ASU. According to Ken Pomeroy, the Sun Devils average 15.9 seconds per possession, which ranks 34th in the nation.

- ASU added eight newcomers coming into the season, with Penn State transfer Jermaine Marshall leading the group. Marshall was immediately eligible to start the season after averaging 15.3 PPG last year for the Nittany Lions, and hasn’t slowed down with the Sun Devils, averaging 15.5 PPG shooting 46% from three point range. Marshall averages 5.8 three point shots per game. Former Kentridge High School and Edmonds Community College star Shaquille Mckissic has landed himself a starting role with the Sun Devils, averaging 7.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Mckissic averaged 22.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last year with Edmonds, earning him NWAACC MVP.

Players to Watch

Jahii Carson-5-10 Point Guard- Carson is the motor that makes ASU’s fast pace offense run. Carson is an early favorite for Pac-12 Player of the Year, and is probably the most exciting player in the conference. He is explosive, measuring a 46 inch vertical leap, and is probably faster than any player in the Pac-12. Carson is currently averaging 19.3 points and 5.4 assists per game. In his first game against the Huskies last season, Carson dropped 32 points at Alaska Airlines Arena, the fourth most points ever by a Pac-12 freshman in a road game. Earlier in the season against UNLV, Carson scored a career high 40 points on 16-25 shooting.  Carson is likely to be a first round pick in the next NBA draft.

Jordan Bachynski- 7’2 Center- The senior center for the Sun Devils has been one of the biggest surprises for the Sun Devils, and may be the most improved player in the Pac-12. Bachynski is currently averaging career highs in points (12.5), rebounds (9.8), and blocks (4.8). He is also shooting a career best 60% from the field. Bachynski set the Pac-12 blocks record last year with 120, has already blocked 63 shots this season, and has a 7’4 wingspan. After struggling with Aziz N’Diaye last year against the Huskies, Bachynski will surely look to dominate against a much smaller UW front court.

The Huskies Win If…

A lot is going to have to go right for the Huskies to win this one but it all starts with Jahii Carson. If Carson is having his way then there is not much chance of stopping the Sun Devil offense.  In the Sun Devils two losses to Miami and Creighton, Carson has averaged just 11.5 points and shot just 7-26 from the field. Carson could probably average 30 PPG, but looks to be a playmaker in the ASU offense, so if you can’t stop Carson, then you will have trouble stopping the rest of the Sun Devils. While the Huskies will have other troubles, such as who can contain Jordan Bachynski, if they can’t stop Carson then Husky fans will be in for a long one.

The Huskies Lose If…

They once again get poor production out of their big men. With Desmond Simmons potentially returning to the starting lineup, the Huskies have more size in the paint, but don’t have anyone who can match up with 7’2 center Jordan Bachysnki. With ASU getting shots up quick, the Huskies will need to limit ASU to one shot per possession. If the Sun Devils are able to control the paint, setting up more play making opportunities for Carson, then ASU will be putting up points in a hurry. Facing a Sun Devil team that averages 79.3 PPG, it all starts on the defensive end for the Huskies, and poor play from their big men will lead to a long night for the Husky defense.

Closing Comments

The New Year doesn't start pretty for the Huskies, with a daunting road trip facing ASU and then #1 Arizona on Saturday. After a forgetful non-conference start, the Huskies will need to put together an above average conference season in order to have any chance of ending their two year tournament drought. If the Huskies are able to win one game on their road trip to Arizona, it will be a huge win for a team in need of a momentum boost. In a game where the Huskies are outmatched in many areas, I will take the Sun Devils 92-76.

Leave your predictions and comments about tonight’s game in the comments section below. Go Dawgs!

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