(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
It’s the final weekend of regular season play, as the Arizona State Sun Devils look primed for a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament next month.
But before they head to Seattle, they’ll have to get through a tough couple of games against Rocky Mountain opponents Utah and Colorado.
The Utes will take the first crack at ASU on Friday, entering the contest with one of the worst records in the conference at 3-13.
However, they are coming off a four game home stand during which they secured a couple of wins over Washington and Oregon.
With nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain, this Utah team will be looking to put a damper on the Sun Devil’s postseason plans.
If Arizona State hopes to avoid that and keep their shot at a one seed alive, they’ll have to take care of these three keys to the game.
Dominate the Three-Point Line
Although three point shooting isn’t the name of ASU’s offensive game, it certainly should be in this one. Utah is the worst team in the Pac-12 at defending the three, allowing opponents to hit over 35% of their looks from beyond the arc. They also really struggle to knock down the three ball themselves, shooting an atrocious 28% from deep on 451 attempts. With solid shooters like Katie Hempen and Elisha Davis, Arizona State should have no trouble lighting up the scoreboard on Utah by letting it fly from downtown.
They may not be the worst lockdown team on the west coast, but lets just say that the 2015 Utah Utes haven’t exactly set the standard for defensive prowess. Nabbing just four steals per game, Utah ranks last in the conference in takeaways and really struggles to play passing lanes as team. ASU’s team-oriented attack is tailored perfectly to this weakness, so look for Davis to be cutting and dishing, racking up the assists all night long.
Senior night doesn’t come till Sunday, yet we are inching closer and closer to the end of Promise Amukamara’s regular season career with each passing game. It’s been an honor to watch her fly up and down the court all year, and the Sun Devils should be doing everything they can to make sure she goes out on a high note. But be sure that the idea of feeding Amukamara isn’t stemming from some sort of nostalgic sympathy. She just captured her second Pac-12 Player of the Week Award of this season after scoring 12 points in two overtimes in the win over USC. Promise has been scoring in droves as of late, and she should find some easy buckets throughout Friday’s bout against Utah.
This one’s about as close to a no-brainer as you’re going to find in Division One women’s basketball. Arizona State should run away with this one, setting themselves up for a regular season finale against Colorado, where they will try to lock up one of the top two seeds in the Pac-12 Tournament.
You can catch this one this Friday on Pac-12 Networks at 6:30 p.m. MST.