After back-to-back conference wins against Colorado and California, Arizona State carried a lot of momentum into Saturday night's game at Stanford. The success did not carry over as the Sun Devils turned in their worst defensive performance of the season and lost freshman point guard Kodi Justice to a broken foot injury in the process.
Now, the team looks to get back on track as they open a three game homestand. First up is Oregon State.
ASU update 10-10 (2-5):
The Sun Devils fell to Stanford late Saturday night at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal blitzed ASU from the outset, scoring 51 points in the first half en route to a blowout win. As we mentioned before, Justice left the game with a foot injury, and we learned earlier this week that he would miss the remainder of the year because of it. The lone bright spot was the play of forward Savon Goodman, who led the Sun Devils with 18 points and four rebounds off the bench. Stanford only led 61-54 with about 13 minutes remaining, but a 24-9 run for the home team erased any doubt. The final was 89-70.
Oregon State update 14-5 (5-2):
The Beavers are coming off an ugly 59-55 win over USC on Saturday afternoon in Corvallis. Junior guard Gary Payton II led all scorers with 21 points in the win. First year coach Wayne Tinkle has Oregon State sitting in third place in the Pac-12, and after being picked by most everyone as the worst power conference team in the nation heading into the season, some national writers have him pegged as an early national coach of the year candidate. The play of Payton has been integral to the Beavers' success. His athleticism gives him the ability to guard any player one through five on the floor when on defense, and he possesses the most skills out of anyone on the roster when he has the ball on the offensive end.
Keys to victory:
1. Tempo, tempo, tempo
Oregon State uglied the game up the first time these two teams met earlier this month, and as a result Arizona State left Gill Coliseum with a 55-47 loss. The Beavers slowed the game down so much that a four or five point deficit felt like ten or 11. The Sun Devils need to run as much as possible and get the score into the 60's or 70's.
2. Don't overpass
Even in their recent victories, the maroon and gold continues to pass up open looks while on offense. With possessions at a premium in this one against one of the top defenses in the league, the team needs to take advantage of the open looks that come their way. Goodman should have a boost in confidence after his outburst on Saturday, but it's guys like Shaquille McKissic that need to take an open three when the opportunity presents itself.
3. A big night from Holder
Point guard Tra Holder has had an up and down season so far, but with no safety net in Justice behind him anymore, he needs to grow up quickly. The team doesn't even need him to be a scoring machine. Just someone that manages the offense with poise and does not turn the ball over excessively will do.
If Holder has a solid game and Arizona State pushes the tempo, it should defend home court and get a big win against the visiting Beavers. Easier said than done, however, against a stingy Oregon State defense.