(Photo: Noah Findling/WCSN)
Two more home games, two more chances to pull ahead.
For Arizona State, the coming week brings two big challenges to Wells Fargo Arena. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Oregon State and Oregon each come to Tempe, Ariz. looking to steal a win to keep their chances alive in the close Pac-12 conference race.
OSU, which plays against ASU on Thursday night at 9 p.m., is 13-8 overall, but 5-4 in the Pac-12. This 5-4 record is the same Pac-12 record as the Sun Devils.
The Beavers are coming into Wells Fargo Arena after just recently upsetting UCLA at home on Sunday night in Corvallis, Ore., 71-67. The loss for UCLA dropped it to 17-5 overall, 6-3 in the Pac-12.
Stepping up for OSU was freshman guard Hallice Cooke who scored a career-high 20 points and OSU junior forward Eric Moreland who had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Pac-12 leading scorer, OSU senior guard Roberto Nelson, chipped in with 12 points but was only 2 of 8 from the field. On the season, Nelson is averaging 21.8 points a game. One major key for ASU will be stopping Nelson like the Bruins.
OSU senior forward Devon Collier leads the conference in field goal percentage shooting 62.4 percent from the field. As a team, Oregon State is no. 3 in the Pac-12, shooting 49 percent from the field.
Another weapon OSU used to beat a tough UCLA team was its multiple second-chance opportunities on the offensive side. The Beavers had 18 second-chance points compared to UCLA’s mere eight.
For ASU to be successful, the Sun Devils will have to get senior center Jordan Bachynski active in the post and make sure he has the ability to grab rebounds and not give OSU any second-chance opportunities.
ASU failed to keep Stanford from the offensive glass and that’s a huge reason why the Sun Devils came out of the Bay Area trip 1-1 instead of 2-0. ASU only had four second-chance points compared to Stanford’s 15 points.
In the game against Stanford, ASU was unsuccessful at fast-break points with neither team scoring a single point off a fast break. ASU succeeds when the play of the game is up-tempo and it can get the quick bucket in transition, but if the game slows down, all bets are off.
ASU still ranks no. 1 in the Pac-12 for made three-pointers, averaging 8.41 made from behind the arc per game. OSU ranks lower in the pack, only averaging 5.67 made three-pointers a game.
For ASU to get the win at home and try to pull ahead in the Pac-12 conference, three-point shooting and then the transition buckets will be crucial.
Keys to Victory:
1. Rebounding on the offensive and defensive glass
Behind Bachynski, who averages 8.9 rebounds a game, ASU leads the Pac-12 in defensive rebounding with 27.95 per game. ASU will need to dominate on the glass and rebound back from its mediocre offensive rebounding night against Stanford if it has any chance against the Beavers. OSU can and will take advantage of the laziness on either side of the ball for ASU. They must attack the paint and grab any loose rebound it can.
2. Fast-break opportunities
Up-tempo, up-tempo, up-tempo. ASU really shines through when it’s playing at a fast-pace and is really getting the opportunity to run the court and getting much-needed fast-break chances. Against a top field-goal shooting team like OSU, the Sun Devils will need to capitalize on the easy layups in transitions to make sure they put points up on the board. While ASU has been hot from behind the three-point arc, it will still need the quick two-pointers in case the team goes into one of its dry spells from the court.
3. Consistent team effort
ASU has already shown that when it has a balanced scoring attack, big things can happen. For ASU to get the win against Oregon State, that balanced scoring attack will need to come into play again. Junior forward Jonathan Gilling had the hot hand until the game against Stanford when he was scoreless. It will be crucial for Gilling to get that confidence back and start knocking down shots. Sophomore forward Eric Jacobsen will also have to contribute major minutes on the defensive side of things for the Sun Devils. Another big body on the court with Bachynski, Jacobsen is just another asset that the Sun Devils constantly have to use.
OSU wins if…its players get hot early from the field and if it takes it early to the paint. The Sun Devils recently got into foul trouble the past couple games, OSU may look to cause some trouble early and force ASU instead of give up the easy shots in the paint when driving in the lane.
ASU wins if…it’s a team effort and all players, especially the bench players, can produce and convert the easy layups and transition buckets. If ASU can successfully shoot from behind the three-point arc and is diligent with collecting the offensive rebounds on misses, then ASU has a good chance of getting the win at home.
You can reach this author via email email@example.com or on twitter @sammyjade18