Following their closer than expected 67-54 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Sun Devils are back in action Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State faces the 5-1 Sacramento State Hornets at 6:30 p.m. in the second game of a six-game homestand. Here is your game preview.
Game Time: 6:30 p.m. MST
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/ Arizona Sports 620
Arizona State Update
The Sun Devils are off to a 5-1 start, and a win over the Hornets would give the Arizona State its first 6-1 start since 2009. The Sun Devils have yet to allow an opponent to shoot 50% from the field, Arkansas-Pine Bluff shot just 29.7% from the field on Wednesday night. Carrick Felix posted his 7th career 20-point game against the Golden Lions on Wednesday, with his 21-point and six rebound performance. In his last three games, Felix is averaging 20.7 points and five rebounds a game, while shooting 65% from the field.
Sacramento State Update
Like the Sun Devils, the Sacramento State Hornets are a surprising 5-1. Sacramento State is riding a two game winning streak, with wins over Central Arkansas and Dominican. The Hornets are averaging 79.8 points per game, which puts them top 30 in the nation. Senior forward John Dickson leads Sacramento State with 17.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Dickson put up 29 points on 10-15 shooting in his last outing. Sophomore guard Dylan Garrity his second on the team in scoring, with 15.2 points per game. The Hornets already have a victory over a Pac-12 school this year, beating Utah 74-71 in November 16th.
John Dickson vs. Carrick Felix - Dickson has been the go to guy for Sacramento Stats and he is the player that Arizona State has to stop. While guarding Creighton's Doug McDermott, Feix picked up four fouls and was forced to sit out most of the second half. Dickson shoots 52% from the field so it will be important for Felix to contest every shot that Dickson puts up. Make other members of Sacramento State beat you.
Jahii Carson vs. Dylan Garrity - Garrity leads Sacramento State in assists and is second on the team in points per game. Garrity does a nice job distributing the basketball to his teammates, however the sophomore can also score the basketball. Carson is coming off a career high eight assists against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and the redshirt freshman is leading the Sun Devils in scoring with 19 points per game.
Keys to the Game
Win the Turnover Battle
Against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, the Sun Devils turned the ball 18 times, while the Golden Lions only turned it over just 13 times. Over the past three games, Arizona State as turned the ball over 48 times, a number that Herb Sendek has noted he wants to see decreased. The Hornets only turned the ball over an average of 12 times per game so it will be important for ASU to pressure and force Sacramento State into mistakes, while protecting the ball themselves.
Make Free Throws
The Sun Devils have been inconsistent at the line all season. Against Arkansas, ASU shot a meager 20-36 from the line. Against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, the Sun Devils shot 16-20 and ASU was 21-28 against Creighton. ASU needs to show consistency at the free throw, and if this game is close, free throws can make a huge difference.
Like most teams the Sun Devils play early in the season, Sacramento State is not big inside. Their tallest player stands at 6-foot-8. ASU needs to dominate inside with Jordan Bachynski and then off the bench with Eric Jacobsen and Ruslan Pateev (if he sees any action). The Sun Devils should be able to dominate the boards and score in the post.
Arizona State 77 Sacramento State 64: Arizona State has been taking care of business against inferior teams thus far this season and I expect that to continue. The game may be close at halftime as the Sun Devils have a hard time putting teams away early. Look for ASU to pull away in the second half and win by double digits.
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