Arizona State (3-0) will meet the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-0) in a matchup of undefeated teams Friday afternoon at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. ASU barely slipped by Cornell Tuesday night in a game much closer than the scoreboard showed. Poor perimeter shooting and shot selection by the Sun Devils allowed Cornell to keep the game close throughout and even take a lead into halftime.
ASU failed to work inside out yet again and settled for shots outside the paint. Due to the solid play of Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski in the second half, ASU was able to pull away late. Can Arizona State keep its winning streak alive against its first power conference team of the season? Arkansas does not have a single senior on its roster but still brings a wealth of experience to the court.
Due to the nature of the early round robin play at team’s home courts in the Las Vegas Continental Tire Invitational, Arkansas has already played Florida A&M as well. It is a rarity for two teams to have a common opponent this early in the season and both teams will meticulously break down each other’s film against the Rattlers.
Both ASU and Arkansas won handily (ASU 97-70, Arkansas 89-60) against Florida A&M, but one stat stood out above all else. Jamie Adams, Florida A&M’s leading scorer against ASU with 24 points, only dropped two points on the Arkansas defense. Another stat of note shows ASU shot 55 percent from the field against Florida A&M compared to Arkansas’ 40.3 percent.
Arkansas comes into the game shooting 45 percent overall from the field — and the Razorbacks would rather drive and dish, shooting just 29 percent from beyond the arc. Thus far this season, Arkansas has had nine more assists and 13 fewer turnovers than ASU, which means they make the most of their possessions and share the ball well, a recipe for solid team basketball and a winning formula. The game will come down to experience, basketball IQ, and just playing smart, hard-nosed basketball.
Keys to the game:
Stop BJ Young
Young was the leading scorer in the SEC last year, outscoring Terrance Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis, among others. He was named a preseason All-American by The Sporting News and comes in averaging 17.5 points per game.
Keep the gates of hell locked
There was only one “40 minutes of hell” and that was the Nolan Richardson Arkansas team of the 1990s. However, current Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson is a disciple of Richardson and calls his style, “The fastest 40 minutes in basketball.” Anderson describes it as “94 feet of pressure” and “controlled chaos.” This means constant trapping and in-your-face pressure defense complimented by a run and gun offense similar to that of ASU. How do you stop it? ASU needs to be strong and patient with the ball working through traps and not let Arkansas dictate pace. This team can’t beat fast with faster, so ASU will need to slow it down and work their half court offense more than they have in their first three games.
For their first road test of the year, Las Vegas is not the best place to take a bunch of college kids. The Sun Devils need to remember what they are going there to do: win basketball games. Wisconsin and Creighton are big name teams. Wisconsin is always a top-tier program and the father/son tandem of Greg and Doug McDermott are sure to draw a lot of attention to the tournament. ASU cannot let the bright lights of the arena, flashbulbs, television cameras — or the strip for that matter — distract them.
Matchup to watch: Jahii Carson (point guard) vs. B.J. Young (point guard)
Carson lifted ASU to victory Tuesday night in a closely contested Cornell game. Will he have enough in the tank on three days rest to give ASU another winning effort? Young will be a good measuring stick for him early in the year.
It’s been about two years since Carson attended summer camps for top recruits to get noticed by college coaches. He has not spent a lot of time since those days playing against players at or above his skill level. He will certainly meet his match Friday in BJ Young and it will be interesting to see how Carson responds.
Quote of the week: On facing tougher competition over the next two games, Herb Sendek said, “If you think we don’t take every team seriously, you’re a fool.”
Mauricio Casillas: Arkansas 80, ASU 72 Player of the Game-Marshawn Powell
Kerry Crowley: ASU 78, Arkansas 72 Player of the Game-Jon Gilling
Alex Gallant: Arkansas 81, ASU 69 Player of the Game- BJ Young
Nick Krueger: Arkansas 85, ASU 67 Player of the Game-BJ Young
Trey Lanthier: Arkansas 86, ASU 79 Player of the Game-Marshawn Powell
Cammeron Neely: Arkansas 75, ASU 62 Player of the Game- Coty Clarke
Evan Webeck: ASU 82, Arkansas 78 Player of the Game-Jahii Carson
Cuyler Meade: ASU 79, Arkansas 71 Player of the Game- Jordan Bachynski
Predictions Update: The WCSN Staff has a prediction record of 24-0 this season. That will change tonight.
Clubhouse Leader: All 8 participants are tied with 3 correct win/loss predictions.
Alex Gallant won the score prediction against Cornell, missing the correct score by a total of 13 points. Nick Krueger still leads by one game over Gallant.
Alex Gallant leads the MVP correctly picking Jahii Carson against Cornell, he also correctly picked Jon Gilling as MVP against Florida A&M giving him a total of two correct predictions. Trey Lanthier, Cuyler Meade and Evan Webeck are all one game back with one correct prediction.