Looking to win their fourth game in a row to make it eight wins of their last 11 games, the Arizona State Sun Devils face their most difficult test of their hot streak as they travel to Salt Lake City looking upset No. 13 Utah at home.
In the Sun Devils’ latest victory, they somehow found a way to win 64-59 against USC despite only shooting 33 percent from the floor and 23 percent from beyond the arc. Despite the poor shooting percentage, four Sun Devils scored in double-figures largely due to their free throw percentage of 77 percent on 26 attempts. Junior guard Gerry Blakes led the scoring column for ASU, scoring 12 points along with an impressive eight rebounds.
Utah is coming into this one off of a rare loss to an unranked opponent, only its second of the season. The defeat came at the hands of Oregon 69-58 in Eugene on Sunday to mark their its loss of the season and third in conference play. The Utes’ leading scorer and really the only player to get anything going on offense was senior guard Delon Wright, who had 20 points, which is something Utah can rely on just about every night.
Keys to the Game
Keep Utah under 70 points
In only four of Utah’s wins have the Utes scored under 70 points, and they scored less than 60 points in each of their losses. So despite them being eighth in the nation in field goal percentage with their average scoring output of 72.6 points per game, they have yet to prove to be consistent in low scoring games. With those stats in mind, slowing down the efficient Utah offense and scoring on their very strong defense will be ASU’s biggest challenge.
Jacobsen and Goodman holding their own
A big key to the Arizona victory was the play of the frontcourt duo of sophomore forward Savon Goodman and junior center Eric Jacobsen. Jacobsen, who eventually fouled out, grabbed seven rebounds to go with his six points and two blocked shots. Goodman had 15 points and nine rebounds against the tall Arizona frontcourt. Utah is very similar to Arizona in the paints, which presents a big challenge to this Sun Devil duo who may need to provide an equal or better performance against Utah.
Get off to a fast start
The only reason ASU was unable to hang with Utah at home was because of its rough first half in which they scored 23 points. If ASU can play like it did in the second half (where both teams scored 36 points) for both halves despite being on the road in a hostile environment, the Sun Devils will have a much better chance of knocking off their eighth opponent in 11 games.
ASU is rolling, but Utah is Utah. They are undefeated at home this season, and the Sun Devils only have two road wins all year long. If it took a miracle to beat Arizona, it’ll take two to beat Utah.