Now with the Christmas holiday behind them, the No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils return to the hardwood for their last non-conference game of the season.
ASU is riding high off of their come-from-behind upset of previously No. 1 Kansas in Tempe, a game they had to scratch and claw to keep it close. They finally were able to take the lead late in the second half, and hold on for one of the best wins in program history.
Which makes their next game against the Princeton Tigers a potential trap. A victory would give ASU back-to-back double digit non-conference winning seasons, and would set themselves up well heading into the weak Pac-12.
The victory over the Jayhawks was huge for many reasons, most notably showing the college basketball world that ASU is trying to build consistent success. After years of being stuck in mediocrity, Bobby Hurley is winning on the court, in scheduling and recruiting.
Getting a blue blood program like Kansas to come to Tempe is no small feat, it gives Hurley and his team credibility. It helps the Pac-12 in what has been a disappointing past two years in revenue producing sports.
In Arizona State’s two losses, they were plagued by second halves where they couldn’t find any rhythm on offense. It was pure isolation basketball, with someone taking a highly contested shot late in the possession.
Luckily for the Sun Devils, the heroics of sophomore guard Rob Edwards helped propel them past Kansas. His play earned him Pac-12 player of the week, as he scored 15 points with a strong 5-for-8 shooting line.
For a team that hasn’t found a credible outside scoring threat for most of the season, Edwards’s emergence could be the spark that makes ASU a legitimate threat in March.
As they turn their attention to Princeton, it’s important that they more than anything play their game. The Tigers are an average team at best with a 6-5 record and can’t match the Sun Devils talent.
Princeton has been a good road team early in the season as they sport a 3-2 record. That road pedigree could serve them well as they face their first cross country trip of the season.
Offensively, the Tigers have three players averaging double figures in scoring. With senior guard Devin Cannady leading the team averaging 20.1 points per contest. Cannady is a major threat from three-point range as he’s shooting 43 percent from deep so far this season.
Freshman guard Luguentz Dort and Edwards will be primarily tasked with trying to limit Cannady’s production.
In the paint, the Tigers’ sport an offensive force in 6’10” center Richmond Aririguzoh who excels at getting deep post touches. Aririguzoh is really effective at getting the foul line, as he’s shooting 74 percent on the season, which could pose issues to ASU’s bigs sophomore Romello White and senior De’Quon Lake who have at times struggled with foul trouble.
Luckily for the Sun Devils, Arirguzoh is not a strong rebounder. Arizona State is one of the better rebounding teams in the country, and if they can control the glass they shouldn’t have too much trouble fending off Princeton.