(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
The Arizona State men’s basketball team will face off against their first ranked opponent as they host no. 25 Marquette University on Monday.
The Sun Devils (5-0) are off to their best start since 1985. They are coming off of a 70-58 win over Bradley University. It was a team effort as the Sun Devils excelled at passing the ball. The team finished with 21 assists on 25 field goals.
Point guard Jahii Carson continues to be successful for the Sun Devils as he leads the team in scoring with 23 points per game. Center Jordan Bachynski has had a double-double in all five games this season and leads the team in both rebounds per game (12) and blocks per game (4.4).
The Golden Eagles (3-1) were an elite eight team last year, but they haven’t looked like one this season. The team was barely able to squeak by the University of New Hampshire in their last game. They won 58-53, but they shot 32.7 percent overall and 13.6 percent from 3-point range.
Marquette’s only loss this season came against then no. 10 Ohio State. The Buckeyes trounced The Golden Eagles 52-35. The Golden Eagles produced the worst shooting performance of any Division I program in that game by shooting 18.9 percent (10-53).
Despite the fact that Marquette has struggled this season they are still a solid team. Junior guard Todd Mayo is averaging 13.8 points per game, and senior forward Davante Gardner putting up a career-best 12.5 points per game. While Marquette doesn’t score a lot of points, their defense is stout. On average, they’ve held opponents to below 60 points per game.
Keys to victory
- Controlling Davante Gardner in the post – At six-foot-eight, 290 pounds, Gardner is a force inside. He has the ability to both out muscle and speed past Bachynski. The Sun Devils do not have a forward that matches up well against Gardner so they will have to limit the amount of chances he gets in the post.
- Score in transition – The Sun Devils struggled against Bradley at times because of the slow pace in the game. The Sun Devils will need to get back to their up-tempo scoring, if they want to beat Marquette. When Marquette lost to Ohio State, the Buckeyes outscored the Golden Eagles 16-0 in fast break points.
Match up to watch: Davante Gardner vs. Jordan Bachynski
At many times in his career, Bachynski has been considered soft. Yes, he’s great at blocking shots, but can he be a dominating defender? In the UNLV game, their forwards dominated the offensive glass and scored on Bachynski. However, Bachynski responded well in the second half of that game and finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds. This season, Bachynski is more fit and more aggressive than he’s ever been. He only had five career double-doubles coming into the season, and he’s already matched that in his first five games. Gardner, however, is also the most fit he’s ever been. He is an efficient scorer, and probably the most explosive scoring option the Golden Eagles have. He is averaging 20.8 minutes a game, so endurance will be his biggest issue.
The only way Arizona State wins this game is if it becomes a shootout – which I think it will. Arizona State narrowly wins 78-74.