There is a point in every team’s season where they come to a crossroad. A crossroad that has a couple directions in which the team and the rest of their season will head.
The Arizona State basketball team may be past that crossroad in their season.
The Sun Devils have now lost two games in row, as well as four of their last six, and at this point ASU may be walking down a road that does not entail dancing in the NCAA tournament.
In order to veer off this path toward the taboo, NIT, it would behoove ASU to win their last two games.
That starts with Arizona State’s game against USC Saturday afternoon.
As many can remember, the Sun Devils required an overtime period at home against the Trojans in their meeting earlier this season. This came after USC forced the extra five minutes with three prayers that were answered behind the arch extremely late in the second half.
This second meeting in Los Angeles will not be any easier, as ASU is slumping, and USC is confident after their last win over No. 11 Arizona.
USC is a very solid, athletic team. Amongst all their styling and profiling they do between possessions on the court, the Trojans can shoot the blood out of the basketball. That’s a quality that does not bode well for an ASU team that still at times does not rotate quickly enough on the floor.
Last time out, Evan Gordon and Jahii Carson combined for 49 points. However, they both combined to allow their men to score 35. A decrease, whether slight or drastic, in the scoring department is almost inevitable. However the overall play, including defense on the opposing USC guards, is key in the ASU backcourt.
2. Rotating on Defense
A good number of USC’s 3-pointers in the last game were well-defended and prayers were graciously answered. A lot of those 15 made three-pointers were the result of ASU rotating over to their man late, and an easier shot being taken by the USC players.
3. Help from the Bench
In whatever form this help comes, it must present itself Saturday afternoon. In the last outing Ruslan Pateev had eight points. However, those points also came along with general quality minutes in all other phases of the game. No matter if the help comes from Pateev, Colvin (who although is now a starter, still plays bench minutes), or even Bo Barnes, aid must come from the bench.
Matchup To Watch:
Jio Fontan (G) vs. Jahii Carson (G)
Both have the ability to score when the occasion arises. However, they both have the ability to be heavily scored upon as well when that occasion presents itself. Seeing who gets the best of the other will be an interesting aspect to look out for.
Prediction ASU 76 USC 85
ASU continues their recent stretch of disappointing play, and cannot handle a high energy USC team. This results in the Trojans pulling away with the win late in the second half.