#18 ASU (18-5, 7-4 Pac-10) does battle tonight against the #6 UCLA Bruins (19-4, 8-2 Pac-10), who have won four straight and are first place in the Pac-10.
UCLA is fresh off of a 89-63 drubbing of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-10), who were at one point a well regarded Big East squad (before reality set in, losing 7 in a row).
Their season has been one of consistency, if not excellence. Despite losing essential players from last year's team (including Kevin Love), they have received quality play from their star players.
Lets examine the top 3, and see who will make the biggest impact against our Devils this evening.
First up is Darren Collison, an experienced senior guard. At 6'0", he is not the most physically imposing Bruin, but his 14.3 PPG and 5 APG are a strong indication of his value in the backcourt. He also averages nearly two steals a game.
Second, we have Josh Shipp. The superior Shipp brother, Josh averages 12.3 points a contest, and along with Collison, strokes around 40% from 3. He has the skills to take over a game, but often plays his role as the secondary scoring threat to particular success. This senior, at 6'5", he offers a problematic defensive assignment for most shooting guards, but the zone helps neutralize that difference in height.
Another experienced senior, Alfred Aboya, causes havoc underneath the rim. 6'9" and a powerful 245, Aboya is a prototypical college power forward. Scoring around 10 points a game and 6 rebounds, he has given increased production lately, scoring 19 against Notre Dame, 14 against USC, and 15 in a win over Stanford.
These three seniors will set the tempo, but freshman Jrue Holliday will be the wild card. As a 6'3" guard, his 3PT shooting requires improvement (32%), but he is active on the boards, grabbing 4 a game and drops 4 dimes as well. His play is making heads turn in the conference, and being surrounded by experience has only improved his maturity and focus.
ASU has their hands full tonight, playing a good team on a strong roll. Good news has arrived, however.
Derek Glasser will be ready for the game tonight, and seeing Jamelle McMillan play so well in his absence only makes this better. The team is healthy, and Pendergraph is fine as well.
High praise for the Bruins by Herb:
“They’re obviously playing great basketball right now,” Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek said about the Bruins. “Everybody saw how they dismantled Notre Dame on Saturday. It seems like they could have named the score. So right now, especially since we’ve seen so many different number-one ranked teams fall, you would be very reasonable to say that UCLA is playing as well as anyone in the country right now.”
Check back later for more coverage of this pivotal ASU home game. GO DEVILS!