ASU Basketball: Sun Devils begin crucial Bay Area trip against Cal

Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY S

Everything you need to know for Arizona State's matchup Wednesday night against California.

Fresh off a sweep of Utah and Colorado, the Sun Devils head back out on the road to the Bay Area to face the Cal Golden Bears and the Stanford Cardinal. Another crucial week lies ahead for the Sun Devils as they continue to fight for the NCAA tournament.

Arizona State opens up the trip against the Cal Golden Bears, who come into the game with an RPI of 44. This is a great opportunity for the Sun Devils to get their second victory against an RPI top 50 team. Here is your game preview of tonight's contest.

Tipoff: 9 p.m. MST/11 p.m. EST

TV/Radio: ESPNU/860 AM

Previous Meeting: February 7th, 2013 (ASU wins 66-62)

California Update

The Golden Bears were one of the most surprising team in the Pac-12 through the first three weeks of conference play. Cal started league play 5-0 including wins over Stanford and Oregon. However, last weekend in Los Angeles, Cal came back down to earth, as the Golden Bears lost to both USC and UCLA.

Mike Montgomery's team boasts one of the most balanced rotations in the Pac-12. Cal has four players in double figure scoring and six players who average at least 9.0 points per game. The Golden Bears are led by senior point guard Justin Cobbs, who averages 15.3 PPG and 6.2 APG.

The Golden Bears are very guard-heavy, as four Cal guards average more than 20 minutes per game. Former blue chip recruit Jabari Bird averages 9.6 PPG in just over 22 minutes per game.

Arizona State Update

The Sun Devils rebounded nicely from a defeat to Arizona with two conference wins against the Rocky Mountain schools. Herb Sendek gave sophomore forward Eric Jacobsen his first two starts of the season last week, allowing Jonathan Gilling to come off the bench.

Gilling responded with his most consistent showings in conference play this season. In two games, he shot 9-10 from the field and 7-7 from 3-point territory. Bo Barnes also proved he can come off the bench and provide Arizona State with good minutes.

Key Matchup

Jahii Carson vs. Justin Cobbs: Tonight's contest pits two of the best point guards in the Pac-12 against each other. Cobbs ranks second in the conference in assists, with Carson not too far behind at No. 6. Both players can score the basketball and both have a knack for making their teammates better.

Cobbs has been held to single-digit scoring just twice this season, and is averaging 17.3 PPG in conference. Carson averaged 20.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG in Arizona State victories over Utah and Colorado last week. This game may come down to who plays better in the battle of the point guards.

Notes

  • In its final 11 games, Arizona State has eight games against teams with an RPI of at least 53, including both contests this weekend in the Bay Area.
  • Jordan Bachynski leads the nation with 88 blocks averaging one block out of every opponents' 13.5 field goal attempts.
  • Last season, Bo Barnes scored 13 points in just 78 total minutes. In his last three games, Barnes is 8-15 from the field and is the team's third leading scorer at 9.7 PPG.
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