(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
After a disappointing blowout loss to Purdue on Tuesday, the Arizona State Sun Devils are looking to get back in the right direction against the San Diego State Aztecs.
The Aztecs have lost two straight, more recently a 76-72 defeat at the hands of ASU’s neighbor, Grand Canyon University. They sit at 4-3 on the season.
Their losses to a pair of beatable teams are a bit surprsing, given the fact that the Aztecs’ top players are scoring as well as ever. Sophomore guard Jeremy Hemsley is third in scoring in the Mountain West with 18.1 points per game. He’s hit 21 of 34 three pointers (61.5 percent) putting him at ninth in the nation.
Junior guard Trey Kell has also bumped up his scoring to 14.3 points pr game, thought on a less efficient 37.8 percent shooting. In general SDSU has not been the best at getting good shots, ranking second worst in their conference with a 41 percent field goal percentage.
This opens up a door for ASU. The Devils’ aggressive style of defense can force SDSU into bad looks. The Sun Devils have not been able to make their style of defense work against much more talented offensive opposition, but may be able to dictate the game against the slumping Aztecs.
The bigger key for ASU will be effort. ASU coach Bobby Hurley had some harsh words for his squad after the loss to the Boilermakers, and he stuck to what he said about his team’s effort level at practice this week.
“I don’t feel bad about any of it,” Hurly said. “My players responded today. We had a good practice, a very aggressive, physical practice.”
Energy will be important to stop the Aztecs, who have a rebound advantage on the offensive glass. They’re top in the Mountain West in offensive boards, and ASU is going to have to compete on the glass to win.
The Devils also need to find a balance in their three-point shooting. Tey tied a school record with 18 against UNLV then shot 4 of 26 against Purdue. A regression to the mean can still make the three a weapon for ASU in this game, but they need to strike a middle ground between making them all and making almost none.
“Anytime you shoot like that from that from deep, it’s tough to win,” junior guard Kodi Justice said. “We’re a good shooting team and we’re going to keep shooting.”
If the Sun Devils can manage to hit a normal amount of shots and play through rough stretches, they have a chance at getting a notable victory.