@ Arizona St. Sun Devils
Date: Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009
Time: 8 p.m. MST
Location: Ned Wulk Court, Wells Fargo Arena (14,141), Tempe, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSN (Barry Tompkins/Dan Belluomini)
Ken Pom Prediction: Arizona State 70-61
After two hellatious days in the courtroom and to wins later, I am pumped and ready to dive into some Arizona basketball. What could be bigger this weekend? If I were living in Tucson right now I may want to make a trip up to Tempe and attend this game. Drink a few beers on Mill. Hit on some sorority girls. You know, make it a weekend. This one is going to be a gem. Let's dive into the analysis:
ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS
Since the Cats took on Arizona on January 21 of this year, they lost their first two, then went on to win four straight against the Oregon schools and L.A. schools. Scary for us, the Sun Devils looked dominant over UCLA and USC. As are the Wildcats, the Sun Devils look to be hitting on all cylinders right now.
Everyone knows that Harden can drop bombs. Everyone knows that Pendergraph is a thorn in our side. Has anyone been paying attention to Derek Glasser? He scored 18 against USC and 15 against UCLA. He is a big reason the Sun Devils were able to handle USC and UCLA.
James Harden continues to pour in the points and currently averages 21.3 ppg. As always, the Cats can only hope to contain him and make someone else beat them. Jeff Pendergraph is another guy for the Sun Devils who has the ability to play up to Jordan Hill's game. Pendergraph hit for 12 points and 11 rebounds against USC. He also had 14 points and 9 rebounds against UCLA. Rihards Kuksis rounds out the Sun Devils averaging a respectable 10.1 ppg. Here they are:
The Arizona Wildcats come into this weekend the hottest team in the Pac-10. Winners of 7 straight and confidence that should take us deep into the Pac-10 tourney and on to the Big Dance. Chase Budinger and Nic Wise have been lights out and the energy they bring has been infectious. If there is one thing I am big on, in any sport, it is that elevation in play by one brings elevation for all those around. Example: Kyle Fogg. In our stretch run against Houston, Washington and Washington state he scored 14, 15, and 15. His play is what allowed the others to elevate their game as well.
Since Fogg fell off a little, Chase Budinger and Nic Wise have picked up the slack. They are both on an absolute tear with Nic winning the Pac-10 player of the week last week. Chase isn't doing too bad either posting 20.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists, while shooting 48.4 percent (46-of-95) from the floor during the Cats current 7 win streak.
Zane Johnson has been a little slow as of late, but chipped in 11 points against UCLA. When the Cats have four players who score in double digits they are 9-1 this year. Speaking of Zane Johnson, he has hit 10-15 from beyond the arc in the last five games.
The Wildcats are not even close to the same team they were when we lost to Arizona State on January 21. This one should be an awesome game with lots of U of A fans at the stadium, from what I hear. A win at Arizona State would be huge given the dramatic loss last time. Don't think that the players have forgotten. They will be pumped up. Let's just hope that Pennell can calm their nerves and play with our heads on straight. A look at the Cats:
Keys to the Game:
Spread the Wealth. Arizona State's game plan has got to be to try and stop Nic and Chase. Although Jordan Hill is a monster down low, Pendergraph can hold his own with him. I am at a loss as to what kind of defense the Sun Devils are going to try and throw at us. If Chase or Nic aren't able to get to the hoop or are being zoned to death, they need to dish for open looks. Obviously, I am not concerned that they will do just that if put in this situation.
4 and 5. Hey. Guess what? We actually have 5 guys that start for Arizona. Really, we do. Their names are Kyle Fogg and Zane Johnosn. Maybe you have heard of them? With Jordan, Nic, and Chase getting all of the newspaper attention this year, it's hard to even break into the other two starters. They have each had tremendous flashes of competitive, top notch play this year. I really think that Kyle is our "swing" player and if he is on, we are VERY tough to beat. As looked at above, Zane is shooting 67% in the last 5 games from beyond the arc.
Play YOUR game. We all know Harden is going to get his. We can only contain this guy. What we can't do is have other guys trying to do too much and not playing sound defense. The Sun Devils have Pendergraph, Glasser, and Kuksiks who can all be very productive. Let's not overplay. Let Jordan take Pendergraph out as much as possible, and everyone else do YOUR job.