(Photo courtesy: ASU Athletics)
The Arizona State men’s basketball team is one win away from doing something they haven’t done since 1985 – start a season 5-0.
The only thing standing in their way is the Bradley University Braves (4-1).
The Braves (4-1) are looking to rebound after an 81-55 loss at Illinois. In the game forward Tyshon Pickett led all players in scoring with 21 points. However, the Braves only got 12 points off the bench and shot an abysmal 15.4-percent from three-point range.
Bradley’s four wins this season have come against Jacksonville State, Alabama State, Central Michigan and Chicago State. This year’s team returns seven of 14 lettermen from last season. This includes senior guard Walt Lemon Jr., who is the active career scoring leader in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Sun Devils, on the other hand, are coming off of an 86-80 road win over UNLV. Point guard Jahii Carson dropped a career-high 40 points, while shooting guard Jermaine Marshall finished with 20. Center Jordan Bachynski recorded his fourth consecutive double-double as he finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds. However, starting forwards Jonathan Gilling and Shaquielle McKissic both struggled. McKissic went 0-3 from the field and finished with no points. Gilling also missed all nine shots he took (including seven three-pointers) and only finished with one point.
Keys to the Game
1. Neutralize forward Tyshon Pickett – The Sun Devils have struggled this season when guarding quick and athletic forwards as evidenced by Roscoe Smith’s success on Tuesday night for UNLV. Pickett is averaging 14.2 points per game and nearly nine rebounds. Pickett is only six-foot-six, but his quickness might be too much for Bachynski to handle in the post. McKissic will need to step up and be disciplined in order to defend Pickett.
2. Get Gilling going early – After missing every single shot he took in the UNLV game, Gilling will be looking to get back on track. Gilling is notoriously better when playing in Wells Fargo Arena, as opposed to playing on the road. Gilling needs to get open looks and drain his shots early, so that he can get out of his slump.
Match up to watch: Jahii Carson vs. Walt Lemon Jr.
This game’s match up pits two point guards that are on the Bob Cousy Award watch list. Carson is coming off of a career game, and will look to continue his great play against Bradley. Lemon Jr., is without a doubt, Bradley’s best player. He leads the team in points per game with 15.6 and assists per game. At six-foot-three, Lemon Jr. plays more of the hybrid guard so there may be times where Marshall will be guarding him instead of Carson. Overall it should be a fun match up to watch between two of the best players in their respective conferences.
Bradley University is not a team that should be taken lightly whatsoever. But, with that being said, I think Arizona State has too many players that can make shots for Bradley to stop them. It could be close at half time, but Arizona State will pull away in the second half by draining threes. My prediction is Arizona State wins 79-62.
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