(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
Coming off a 68-60 rebound win against Colorado, Arizona State ventures further north to the Beehive state for their Sunday afternoon bout with Utah.
The Utes enter this one with the worst record in the Pac-12 at 7-13, but don’t let that make you thing they’ll be a cakewalk for the Sun Devils.
Utah’s offensive numbers are some of the worst in the conference, but what they lack in scoring, they fully make up for on the defensive side of the ball.
They rank third in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, second in opponent field goal percentage, and have the third lowest points surrendered in the conference behind just ASU and Oregon State.
If the Sun Devils hope to avoid a major upset in Huntsman Center they’ll have to find a way to score the ball against a stingy defense and a team with something to prove.
Which leads us to ASU’s Keys to victory:
Don’t Play Down to the Competition
Charli Turner-Thorne does a great job of getting her team fired up to execute in every game, but its still very easy for young players to loose focus and make lazy mistakes against lesser opponents. The Sun Devils showed a little bit of this on Friday when they allowed a 9-11 Colorado team to turn a gimmie game into a stressful thriller, as ASU got off to a sluggish start and constantly failed to put the Buffaloes away late.
Utah’s leading scorer, Taryn Wicijowski, averages over 36 minutes played a game. Arizona State generally plays with a platoon rotation, constantly swapping players on and off the floor in order to keep everyone fresh and maintain their fast paced. If the Sun Devils can consistently force the 6-foot-3 forward to run up and down the floor, they should be able to capitalize on the difference in energy and out run the Utes to victory.
Move the Ball
What’s the best way to beat a great basketball defense? Move the ball. Around the perimeter or inside and out, just make sure that the rock keeps changing hands and force Utah to adjust. ASU is the third highest assisting team in the conference, so this shouldn’t be too big of an issue for them, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Utes force some easy turnovers if Arizona State gets sloppy with their passes.
Upsets can always happen, but its tough to see the 11th ranked team in the AP poll come away with an L against the worst team in their conference.
With that, this should be a good win for ASU heading into next week’s showdown with Stanford in Tempe.