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ASU Basketball: Sun Devils will try to carry momentum into Cal

Coming off their first conference win, ASU is still in search of something else

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Tip off: 9 p.m. MST

Television: Pac-12 Networks

ASU badly needed a win against one of the rocky mountain teams in its last home stand. They were able to accomplish that with a copious amount of slam dunks courtesy of Shaquielle McKissic and a bit of luck from the injury bug with Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott both out for Colorado. They'll need to dig even deeper Thursday as the team starts its northern California road trip against Cal, still in search of its first road win this season. Although small, stringing together a couple conference victories could do wonders for this team's confidence, especially when the shots fall as they did Saturday against the Buffs.

ASU update 9-9 (1-4):

The Sun Devils got their first conferee victory Saturday afternoon 78-72 over Colorado. Five players, Eric Jacobsen, Savon Goodman, Gerry Blakes, Tra Holder and Bo Barnes all finished with double digit points for ASU. The maroon and gold shot 55.3 percent from the field and 55 percent from the field in the victory. McKissic led the way with 16 points and leads the team with 11.1 points per game.

Cal update 11-7 (1-4):

Under new head coach Cuonzo Martin, the Bears season can be categorized as a slow climb upward, followed by a steep downward trend as of late. They started the season 10-1 with their only loss coming to then No. 10 Texas. They had a solid win over Wyoming and No. 23 Syracuse to their credit. A loss to No. 6 Wisconsin then triggered a sharp decline with another loss to Cal State Bakersfield. They beat their first conference opponent in Washington and have lost their last four to Washington State, both L.A. schools on the road and at home to Stanford. Junior 6-foot-5 guard Tyrone Wallace leads the team in points (17.9), rebounds (8.3) and assists (3.9).

Keys to victory:

1. Fresh legs

This game could come down to which team is more physically fit. The Bears have seven players that have played in every game and 10 that average over 10 minutes of playing time. Both teams will consistently have new substitutions trying to matchup correctly. Bench management could play a large role in the final minutes, keeping fresh legs on the court and making sure players stay out of foul trouble.

2. Run, run, run

Cal only averages 66.9 points per game, which is No. 196 in the country. They also only force four steals a game and have turned it over an average 11 times per contest this season. As it has been for the past two seasons, it will be to the Sun Devils advantage to push the pace early and often, making Cal go to their bench as players continue to get tired.

3. Deja vu

Given Cal's recent trend of losing games in conference, this could be another chance for ASU to steal a victory. Cal is No. 175 in the country in field goal percentage while ASU sits at No. 86. The Sun Devils were clearly stroking it from beyond against Colorado and had numerous hot hands. If the maroon and gold can come out firing and once again hold on for dear life late in the game, ASU should find themselves on the winning end once again. The matchup of 6-foot-10 forward David Kravish against Eric Jacobsen. The latter seemingly has the strength edge down low but Kravish is more skilled.

Prediction: ASU- 76 Cal- 68