VS ASU this year: 1-0
NET Ranking: 96
Points scored: 72.7 (182 of 353)
Points allowed: 72.6 (210 of 353)
In one of their most uninspiring performances of the season, the Arizona State Sun Devils were blown out in Palo Alto by Stanford despite ASU possessing the more talented roster.
ASU’s senior forward Zylan Cheatham played the first matchup with a heavy heart, as he had buried his older brother earlier that day following his tragic death. Cheatham later admitted to reporters that it was one of the toughest moments in his life, and it shows his dedication to the team that he even played that night.
Stanford’s interior scoring was exceptional that night, as they had their way with ASU’s bigs. Sophomore forwards KZ Okpala and Oscar da Silva each scored a game high 21 points and brought down a combined 19 rebounds.
Okpala has proven to be one of the better scorers in the Pac-12, and excels at driving past slower defenders and using his size to get up shots over those smaller than himself.
Given the Sun Devils’ size and athleticism they should possess the necessary talent in order to slow Okpala down, but struggled to do so at Maples Pavilion.
ASU head coach Bobby Hurley has been shortening his rotation of late, but could look to extend his bench to deal with the Cardinal’s size as well as to keep guys fresh after playing two games in high altitude.
Senior forward De’Quon Lake has seen his minutes drastically decrease in recent games, but could be used to try and disrupt the offensive rhythm of both da Silva and senior center Josh Sharma.
For Arizona State, the key to their success remains in the shooting form of redshirt junior guard Rob Edwards. After an abysmal performance against CU, Edwards caught fire in Salt Lake City on his way to score 28 points on a very efficient 9-of-14 shooting line.
Edwards scored 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting in the first matchup of the season, which wasn’t enough to carry the team on a poor night from the field.
Another problem for the Sun Devils in the first meeting was their struggles at the free throw line. The team shot 6-of-17 from the charity stripe and was a key reason for the 85-71 defeat, even though ASU did a nice job shooting from the field and the three-point line.
Arizona State now enters a crucial stretch of the season, it begins with the final two home games of the season that are must-win games. Sitting squarely on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament, ASU must take care of business at Wells Fargo Arena before trips to Oregon and Tucson.
It’s a little reminiscent of football season, but for Sun Devil basketball a lot more is on the line.