Where: Tempe, Arizona
When: 12:30PM (Mountain)
Radio: Wildcat Radio
The #7 Arizona Wildcats (15-1, 3-1) will head up North on Saturday to take on the Arizona Sate Sun Devils. ASU (14-3,3-1) is a talented team looking to surprise some people in the Pac 12. These two rivals have traded wins a number of times over the past few years, leaving neither team in the forefront. ASU is coming off a close loss to Oregon Sunday evening as they missed a three at the end of regulation to try and send the game into overtime. Sean Miller hopes to give ASU their second loss in conference play- let’s look inside Miller’s Chalkboard for the key factors of the game:
Devils To Watch: ASU is led by Jahii Carson- many Wildcat fans are probably familiar with this PG. He considered going to the U of A before Nick Johnson committed and he chose ASU instead. He leads his team in both points per game (17.1) and assists per game (5.2) while shooting at 45% from the field. He is not a great three-point shooter and he knows that. He is quick, strong, and uses good basketball IQ to penetrate the defense to find an open man or knock down the jumper. Some consider him the best freshman in the Pac 12 and his play backs that up. Senior Carrick Felix is the other stud on the Sun Devil team- and the Cats will need to contain him. He can play the 3 or 4 spot and has been a huge factor to the team’s success thus far. He puts up 15.1 points a game and pulls down 8.1 boards a game (leads team). Another key factor in this game will be how Evan Gordon plays, as he has been inconsistent thus far for the Devils. Recently he exploded the scoreboard with 17 points against Oregon, and will look to continue that momentum into Staurday’s matchup.
X-Factor: For Arizona, you can make an argument that any one of the Wildcats can be the X-Factor in any game. For this particular game against our arched rival, I predict Brandon Ashley will be that X-Factor. Ashley has the skill set to be averaging a double-double each game, but Sean Miller’s rotation limits his minutes. Ashley’s play Saturday will be a huge factor to whether or not U of A comes away with a victory. He must use his length and athleticism to be a contributor on both sides of the ball. As for the Sun Devils, their X-Factor will be Jordan Bachynski. He is a defensive beast down low averaging 4.5 blocks a game along with 7.2 rebounds a game. How well the Cats penetrate the Sun Devils defense and take Bachynski away from the basket will play a huge role in this game’s outcome.
Athleticism: Arizona has the better athletes- by far- between these two teams. Sean Miller will look to expose the Devils with them and run up and down the court, allowing the better team to excel. The Cats will need to take advantage of their depth and athleticism to take control of this game and punish the opposition. Sean Miller likes to distribute the minutes among the usual 8-9 players and will do the same Saturday. How the players come out and take advantage of their gifted talents will depict the outcome.
Prediction: The Wildcats are ready to continue the dominance of their in-state rival and will win Saturday, 81-73.