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ASU-Texas Tech preview

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The Sun Devils are certainly enjoying their winter break with a 9-2 record, but they have their first true road test of the season on Saturday afternoon when they take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Texas Tech is also the team’s second to last non-conference game of the season and fortunately for ASU, the Red Raiders are currently on a two game skid. Texas Tech (5-3) was clobbered by 28 points at home against 4th ranked Arizona. The Red Raiders will be a good test for the Sun Devils before Pac-12 play begins in January.

In four of ASU’s five December games, freshman sensation Jahii Carson has led the charge in scoring. What’s on the line against Texas Tech? Last season, ASU was 4-8 after its first 12 games so picking up ten wins before 2013 could give the confidence this team needs to win some more relevant Pac-12 games.

This game has no purpose for the Sun Devils besides seeing how prepared they are after playing together for nearly two months. Texas Tech has an RPI of 280 out of 347 Division I basketball schools.

Keys to Victory

1. Protect the Rock

ASU has done a better job handling the ball this month as they have averaged around 13 turnovers per contest. But those numbers need to get even better because Texas Tech averages 11 steals per game. In the two Sun Devil losses, they averaged over 15 turnovers.

2. Find a New Hot Hand

Jahii Carson and Carrick Felix are consistently on the top of the stat sheet and that should continue this weekend. But have you noticed the Sun Devils play even better when another hand gets hot? Fans are still waiting for another 29 point night from transfer Evan Gordon and big numbers from Jonathan Gilling. Gilling’s season high is 13 points and he only has two games with 10 or more rebounds.

3. Get Momentum Early

This is ASU’s first true road test of the season so they can not afford to start slow. The last thing head coach Herb Sendek wants is for his boys to face the craziness of the Big 12 fans. If ASU can get the crowd out of the game early, they will coast to their 10th victory of the season before the start of a new year.

Match-up to Watch: Carrick Felix (Forward) vs. Jaye Crockett (Forward)
Do not overlook the fact that Crockett, Texas Tech’s leading point scorer, comes off the bench. He takes control and takes ten shots and is efficient, too. He makes 62 percent of his shots and he thrives off the ball. His style will remind Sun Devil fans of a poor-man’s Felix because Crockett is not as athletic as the ASU forward, but he loves to drive and can be deadly inside 20 feet.Felix, on the other hand, is coming off a double-double performance against Dartmouth. All three of Felix’s double-doubles on the season have come in December. Felix has been the definition of a senior leader this season. Despite the first game against Central Arkansas, the Goodyear native has always been a double-digit scorer. Watch out Crockett. Felix had a season high four steals and five blocks in his last game.

Staff Predictions:

Nick Marek: ASU 72, Texas Tech 63; MVP: Jordan Bachynski

Alex Gallant: Texas Tech 71, ASU 67; MVP: Jaye Crockett
Evan Webeck: Texas Tech 88, ASU 74; MVP: Jaye Crockett
Trey Lanthier: ASU 77, Texas Tech 76; MVP: Carrick Felix

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