(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils (8-6) will travel to Corvallis, Oregon, in search of their first road victory of the season, as they face the Oregon State Beavers (9-4) Thursday at 7 p.m.
Both teams are coming into this matchup with a loss in each of their first conference games of the season. The Beavers took a loss to rival Oregon falling 71-59, while being held to 35.2 percent from the floor.
Turnovers and poor shooting cost the Sun Devils in their 73-49 loss to rival Arizona on Sunday. ASU turned the ball over 22 times, eight committed by point guard Gerry Blakes, while shooting just 32.6 percent from the field. No one on the Sun Devil roster finished the game in double figures.
If ASU hopes to have any chance at getting a bid to the Big Dance down the line, they will need to ring in the wins within the conference after an average non-conference campaign, starting with Oregon State.
Keys to the Game
Junior guard Langston Morris-Walker collected 16 points in the losing effort against Oregon. Morris-Walker has dealt a double-figure blow in nine games this season. If the Sun Devils hope to inhibit the Beavers inside the paint, they will need to keep the ball out of Morris-Walker’s hands.
Crash the Boards
Arizona State was outrebounded 24-17 on defense and 8-3 on offense against Arizona. Combine that with a turnover differential of seven in ASU’s favor and you get a team that is giving away opportunities. The Sun Devils will have to work to get loose balls, especially over the Beaver’s 7-foot center, Cheikh N’diaye, if they hope to avoid falling into an early deficit as they have in previous games.
With the new starting lineup, the bench now features returning seniors Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes. Both players have to come into games this season wreaking havoc from beyond the arc. Three-point shooting has been both of these players’ secret weapons in the past, and on a team where the momentum is so easily stalled, contribution from veteran players is a necessity in winning games and overcoming ever-common turnover trouble.
Last season each of these teams took the victory on its home court in overtime. This will be a close matchup and could be another game where the tally in the “W” column comes down to the last shot. If ASU can hold onto the ball and keep up its climbing free-throw percentage, it will take its first road victory in Gill Coliseum.
You can reach the author on Twitter @KristinaV_18 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org