(Photo: Noah Findling/WCSN)
After impressive home wins over Cal and Stanford the Sun Devils continued their season-long trend of struggling on the road losing their final two regular season games and then by getting blown out by Stanford 79-58 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament.
ASU stayed competitive in the first half thanks to the hot shooting of Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes but struggled to generate any consistent offense in the second half. A 7 for 26 shooting night from their big three of Jahii Carson, Jordan Bachynski and Jermaine Marshall also didn’t help matters.
After finishing last season 16-18, losing their top four scorers and turning Rick Barnes’ hot seat into a proverbial volcano, Texas didn’t have particularly high expectations coming into the season.
After playing mostly average basketball over the first 17 games of the season, Texas ripped off one of the most impressive four game stretches any team has had this season beating Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas State (all Top 25 teams at the time) and then dominating the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks in the first half before holding on for an 81-68 victory.
Much like ASU, the Longhorns struggled down the stretch losing five of their final eight games much to the chagrin of the Sun Devil faithful who are familiar with the teams rebounding woes Texas ranks fourth in the country in that category. It’s a group effort for the Longhorns as Texas has six players averaging at least three rebounds per game.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Keep Texas out of the paint…At all costs:
The Longhorns are at their best when they can consistently get to the rim. They have two extremely confident attacking guards in Javan Felix and Isaiah Taylor. On the off chance they don’t finish, Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes who combine to average 17 rebounds per game are there to clean up the misses. ASU has to keep the Longhorns on the perimeter where they only shoot 32 percent from three point range.
2. Jordan Bachynski has to step up:
After putting together a dominant two game stretch against the Oregon schools in early February Bachynski has struggled over the final eight games of the season shooting 36 percent from the field. Bachynski’s going to have to at least play Ridley to a draw, a tall task against the former blue-chip recruit who flat out bullied Kansas Jayhawks phenom Joel Embiid earlier in the year. The key defensively for Bachynski will be if he can contest the Longhorn guard’s rim runs and than recover to get the rebound.
3. The shooters need to shoot:
The last time ASU played well on offense was on senior night against Cal and it showed just how dominant this team can be when Gilling, Marshall and Barnes are all hitting shots and creating space for Carson and Bachynski on pick and rolls. Marshall in particular has shot poorly lately going 4 for 21 on threes over the last three games, which is obviously unacceptable for a 40 percent three point shooter. It’s seemed all season, particularly against elite competition that the Sun Devils success has correlated with Marshall hitting shots so it’s imperative he gets it going this game
ASU starts off cold from the field, but stays in the game thanks to some inspired play from Jahii Carson. Jermaine Marshall gets hot in the second half as a young Texas Longhorn’s squad that only has one upperclassmen in their starting line-up crumbles under the pressure as the Sun Devils win a free throw shooting contest to close out the game.
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