(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
After a tiring and tumultuous non-conference schedule, the Arizona State Sun Devils finally get Pac-12 play started with a road test at Stanford.
ASU finished a brutal OOC schedule with a respectable 7-6 record, boasting a marquee road win at San Diego State, whilst tumbling under the spotlight against powerhouse teams such as Kentucky and Purdue. Instability and unpredictability have been a few reoccurring themes for ASU in the first half of the season, and approaching conference play, the Sun Devils hope to get straightened out.
ASU has not defeated Stanford on their home court since 2010, with the Cardinal holding the overall series edge at 48-34. They split the pair last season, with the Sun Devils nearly pulling out a nail-biter in Palo Alto. This year, Stanford owns an 8-4 record after finishing non-conference play, and they only have one loss on their home court, which came against then #12 Saint Mary’s.
The height disadvantage for the Sun Devils has been harped upon thoroughly throughout the season, and once again, the frontcourt will be tested. Cardinal Junior forward Reid Travis has been a beast in the paint, averaging nearly a double-double at 17.8 ppg and 9.8 rpg. Travis figures to be a handful for Obinna Oleka. Even if Travis is contained, the undersized Sun Devils will then have to deal with 6-9 Michael Humphrey hailing from Phoenix, who averages over seven a game as well.
With Stanford boasting a noticeably larger starting lineup, expect to see an uptick in playing time for Freshman Jethro Tshisumpa, who has made great strides throughout the early-going. Tshisumpa currently has 17 blocks already in limited playing time, but he has seen an increase in minutes lately. Against a larger Cardinal squad, expect double-digit minutes for the former top-100 recruit.
On the offensive end for the Sun Devils, it will once again be the three-point party coming to play. Oleka will be knotted up in a battle down low, forcing the Sun Devils to once again work the perimeter. In their last game against Central Arkansas, the Sun Devils tied the school record for made threes at 18, a mark they tied earlier in the season as well. Torian Graham leads the team with 36 made threes, and Junior Kodi Justice has the best percentage from deep at 39.1%. In Stanford’s past two games, they have allowed over 11 threes; so ASU might seek to take advantage of a somewhat lackluster perimeter defense.
Overall, this game will be a battle between Stanford’s bigs and ASU’s guards. If the Sun Devils can light it up from beyond the arc, then the high-powered Sun Devils can compensate for their lack of size down low. But, if the shots don’t fall, the Sun Devils could be in for a long night of paint work.
The game tips off at 7 P.M. Arizona time on the Pac-12 Network.