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Arizona State Game Preview and Open Thread

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The Huskies will take part in a match-up between high-powered offenses and no defense down in the desert

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Wednesday, 1/25/16

Tip-Off Time: 8:00pm PST

TV: ESPNU

Radio: Komo 1000

Arizona State Statistics:

Record: 9-11 (2-5)

Points For per Game: 81.4 ppg (29th)

Points Against per Game: 83.8 ppg (338th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.8 (43rd)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 109.8 (277th)

Arizona State Key Players:

F- Obinna Oleka, Sr. 6-8, 225: 13.6ppg, 10.6rpg, 1.2apg, 45.3% FG, 70% FT, 25.8 % 3pt

Oleka is an elite rebounder despite being a little undersized for a center. He takes about a third of his shots from beyond the arc despite only making 25.8% of them so the Huskies will live with it if he decides to stay out of the paint.

G- Torian Graham, Sr. 6-5, 195: 18.8ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.3apg, 48.2% FG, 86.2% FT, 39% 3pt

Although Markelle Fultz is sometimes criticized for not shooting the ball enough, he’s the only player in the Pac-12 who takes a higher percentage of their team’s shots than Graham. About half of his shots come from long distance and he’s well above average shooting from anywhere on the floor.

G- Kodi Justice, Jr. 6-5, 190: 7.9ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.4apg, 43.8% FG, 71.4% FT, 42.7% 3pt

Justice has the smallest role of any of the Sun Devils starters and is primarily a catch and shoot sniper. He also leads the team in steals and it won’t surprise me if he gets some of the responsibilities guarding Fultz.

G- Tra Holder, Jr. 6-1, 180: 17.0ppg, 3.6rpg, 3.4apg, 44.1% FG, 77.4% FT, 34.6% 3pt

Holder is the most likely of the Arizona State guards to drive to the hoops and is exceptional at drawing fouls. Look for Holder to get the ball in a high pick and roll to engage the UW big man and then try to blow by him to the hoop for an easy layup or and-1.

G- Shannon Evans, Jr. 6-1, 160: 15.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.5apg, 41% FG, 85.5% FT, 37.1% 3pt

Evans has been a steady presence for the Sun Devils, serving as the team’s primary ball handler. He is one of four ASU starters with a turnover rate lower than Markelle Fultz’s so Evans won’t beat himself by giving the ball away.

The Outlook

Arizona State is essentially Washington’s clone. Both teams have very good offenses and absolutely atrocious defenses. In conference play, the Sun Devils have had even bigger offense/defense splits while the Huskies have been (slightly) more balanced. The defensive lapses are a little more understandable in ASU’s case. The transfer of Seattle native Sam Cunliffe has left them with little depth and they are 2nd in the country in percentage of minutes played by the starters. That has left them with a 4-guard lineup reminiscent of what Coach Romar was forced to play a few years ago.

The advantage of the 4-guard lineup is that it has allowed them to dominate on the offensive end. They’re 10th in the country in turnover rate so they protect the ball at an elite level. The height differential though makes it difficult for them to secure offensive rebounds so they struggle to get 2nd chances.

The disadvantage of it is that they can’t stop anyone on defense. Arizona State is 342/351 in effective field goal percentage and opponents make 56.4% of 2-pointers and 38.1% of 3-pointers against them. There are a few differences though between the Husky and Sun Devil versions of "defense". Opponents actually take a decent amount of time to score on UW but ASU has the 5th quickest time of possession against. Opposing offenses instantly break down the Sun Devils and get a great shot.

This game will be ugly for anyone that loves defense but for everyone else it will be incredibly entertaining. If any game this year eclipses 200 total points, it will be this one. UW’s best chance will be to wear down ASU’s depth and hope to pull away in the 2nd half. But at this point in the year I’d expect the ASU guards to be used to playing the whole game though and they play a lot of zone to protect them from fouls and get more rest on defense.

The most intriguing sub plot for me will be if Coach Romar plays 2 bigs to try to dominate the glass or match Arizona State and go small. It has been a consistent trend of Romar’s to match the opponent when they play an odd lineup rather than dictate the terms of the game. Given UW’s depth issues with Dime out I think Dickerson and Atawe will start but Romar will quickly bring in Dominic Green or Carlos Johnson and both will get plenty of run. I expect both teams to get whatever they want inside so it will come down to a 3-point shooting contest. UW has struggled with making open looks in conference play (11th for UW, 5th for ASU) so that and home court advantage make me lean towards the Sun Devils.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 92, Arizona State Sun Devils- 95