Arizona State travels away from the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena for the first time this season, as the Sun Devils hit the road to face the UNLV Rebels. Arizona State sits at 3-0 on the season, with victories over three lower tier mid-major teams. Will they finally get tested against the Rebels? Find out in our game preview.
Game Time: 8 p.m. (local time)
Television/Radio: CBS Sports Network/ 860 AM
The Rebels are off to a 2-1 start this season. Since their season-opening victory over Portland State, the Rebels lost by 21 to UC Santa Barbara and only beat Nebraska-Omaha by three. The Rebels are averaging just 68.3 PPG and are shooting just 41% from the field. As a team, UNLV is shooting just 50% percent from the FT line and 37% from beyond the arc.
UNLV is led by junior forward Roscoe Smith, who averages 13.0 PPG and 14.7 RPG. He does an outstanding job rebounding for someone who is only 6-8. Smith ranks third nationally in rebounds per game, just ahead of Kentucky freshman Julius Randle. UNLV has four players in double figure scoring and two players who average double figures in scoring and rebounding.
Arizona State Update
The Sun Devils are off to a perfect 3-0 start, albeit against lesser competition. Arizona State ranks ninth in the nation in assists per game, averaging 20.0 dimes a game. A major part of that is sophomore point guard Jahii Carson, who has 15 assists in three games. Carson also leads Arizona State with 18.7 PPG.
Arizona State ranks 22nd nationally in PPG, 17th in rebounds and 40th in field goal percentage. The Sun Devils have put up at least 90 points in two games and have jacked up 83 three-point shots in three games, shooting at a 45% mark.
What to Watch
Both of these teams rebound the basketball very well. Look for the battle inside to rage all night. It will be Jordan Bachynski and Jonathan Gilling for Arizona State against Roscoe Smith and Khem Birch for UNLV. Birch and Smith are both undersized, but average a combined 25 rebounds per game.
Bachynski has been a rebounding machine early on in the season, putting up three double-doubles in three games. Arizona State has to be fundamentally sound when defensive rebounding and not allow UNLV to get second chances.
What I am most interested to see in this game is how the young players of Arizona State handle their first road game. They have played well against inferior competition and at home, but that doesn't necessarily translate to a road game. The Sun Devils have not been tested this season, beating three lower tier mid-majors. I expect this game to be close at halftime with the Sun Devils pulling away in the second half. Final: Arizona State 82, UNLV 68.