Arizona State Men's basketball preview vs. Oregon State

General Info:

Opponent: Oregon State Beavers

Head Coach: Craig Robinson

I write previews for the Oregon State Men's basketball program, so it is awkward to write a summary to be used against them. But regardless, OSU is ultimately in uncharted lands. After a hot non-conference start, including a win against Texas, the Beavs were labeled positive surprises in the down Pac 12. However, all that fizzle is largely gone, as the Beavers started out slow in conference, going 1-4 and is actually BEHIND ASU as this piece is written. Can the Devils continue with their recent success against the Beavers? More after the jump. Note that some stats used will be conference-only.

If there's one thing OSU is so different about the Sun Devils, its their ability to score. OSU is right now averaging 83 points a game, tops in the Pac 12. They are also shooting 48% from the floor and 70% from the line, tops in the league. They are "only" shooting 36% from 3, 6th in the Pac, so that's also a legit concern. Moreover, they play at a frenetic pace, averaging 78 possessions a contest, almost 20 more than ASU in conference. The team's offense predicates on a lot of slashing and a lot of transition dunks or layups.

Defensively, the Beavers are very suspect. Originally capable of shutting down non-conference opponents, they got waxed on defense from Washington and Wazzu. Simply put, opponents have their way. They average 89 points a game against OSU, shooting 49 and 43% from the field and from behind the arc, numbers that are in the Pac 12 cellar. If ASu wants to stem its turnover issues with hot shooting, this might be a good game to do so. As a whole, the Beavers get outboarded by opponents on both ends but to their credit steal the ball constantly and block shots well too.

Key Personnel:

Jared Cunningham is team leader and primary scoring option for the Beavers. Extremely athletic in both his vertical and footspeed and thrives in slashing and transition. Not a terrible 3 point shooter, but it isn't his forte. Is the most likely player to rob the ball from our Devils.

Ahmad Starks is the blur and the cannon, a capable guy who can get to the hole and can drill a 3 at ease. However, his size makes it hard to finish close and guard taller players. Fearless, to say the least, so don't be wholly surprised if he has the ball in his hands for the last shot. Defensively he's the guy you want to close out on your shooters, as his size almost makes no difference

Roberto Nelson is the sixth man guard, who plays with Cunningham and Starks or backs them up. Well built for his position, Nelson is also an athletic jack of all trades who can penetrate, finish, dish, and shoot. However, he can disappear for stretches, especially when Starks and Cunningham dictate the action or when he's not involved with the ball in his hands.

Devon Collier is one of many OSU big men who will contribute much. An athletic big with a huge wingspan, he is a hustle player who mostly scores around the basket or a little beyond that. Defensively his wingspan plays a role in his ability to patrol the paint, swats 1.4 shots a game.

Joe Burton is a skilled and heavy big man who is a good and willing passer. Leads the Beavers in assists, one of the top distributors in the conference, with his ability to suck in a defense and handing the ball off to a teammate. A decent enough finisher, making him a two way offensive threat.

Angus Brandt is a big dude who can sometimes stretch defense with a 3, but scores enough inside as well. Not exactly as menacing a defender as Collier but is certainly a mobile enough deterrent.

Eric Moreland is like Collier in that he does a lot of the dirty work. Though not the scorer Moreland is a better defender and shot blocker. A guy who comes off the bench to provide minutes to spell the other bigs.

Game Plan:

- OSU is at its best when forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. TAKE CARE OF THE BALL! Make passes that will find its target and don't make passes that won't. If you're confused, bounce it off someone's leg and inbound it. Maybe even burn a timeout. Fake a pass and than pass. ANYTHING BUT TURNOVERS!!

- Continue the hot shooting that we showed against good Pac 12 competition.

- Slow the tempo down. They have way more horses than we do. We can slow the game down in a number of ways like

a) Putting a matchup zone. It hurted them the year before and it will hurt them again. Ask any of my Building the Dam associates and they too will admit that the Beavers stink at zone busting. Setting up a zone defense almost guarantees shot clock burning

b) sending 3 guys back right after a shot goes up

- From a personnel standpoint,
i) Carrick Felix cannot afford to disappear; he's scored 6 points in the opening 5 minutes and did little else beyond that. He HAS to take more shots. 10-12 looks reasonable to ask, along with trips to the line.
ii) And with Ruslan Pateev holding his own, feed him more touches. This is just to make the defense accountable and relieve pressure off of Trent Lockett.
iii) Kyle Cain is going to have to work his tail off holding the fort against a good OSU frontcourt.
iv) Can Jonathan Gilling and Chanse Creekmur continue their hot shooting?

- If Tom Kuyper's analysis is correct: (see video at FS Arizona) http://www.foxsportsarizona.com/pages/video#
a) OSU will send too many players to crowd a dribble penetrator in a zone, leading a lot of easy passes for easy shots

b) In a man defense, OSU will give little help defense, resulting in easy trips to the baskets, for layups and dunks.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE OPPORTUNITIES WHEN THE CHANCE ARISES!

OK, that's all I have to say for the OSU Beavers. Go Devils!

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