Off to a Fast Start
Nobody in the country expected Arizona State Basketball to be as good as they have been to start off the season. With signature wins over Xavier and Kansas, and an undefeated pre-season record, ASU earned their highest ranking in program history being ranked as high as number 3 in the nation.
The guard play from ASU is what has allowed ASU to become so good. Seniors Tra Holder, Shannon Evans, and Kodi Justice have given ASU a 3 headed monster that teams can not match up well against. Not to mention freshman stand out Remy Martin has looked amazing coming off of the bench and contributing big time. Freshman Romello White has also provided ASU with a scoring and rebounding presence down low in the post which has helped take pressure off of Arizona State’s guards.
Hitting a wall in PAC-12 play
After starting off with a scorching 12-0 record, Arizona State basketball has struggled in PAC -12 play. The Sun Devils have started off 0-2 in PAC-12 play with losses to Arizona and Colorado. Poor shooting and defense have helped contribute ASU’S losses. In addition, Arizona State’s guards have struggled shooting besides Tra Holder. Both Kodi Justice (33.8%) and Shannon Evans (25%) have gone cold from the field during back to back Pac-12 losses to Arizona and Colorado. Romello White has also disappeared since PAC-12 play started and has struggled to stay on the court due to foul trouble.
Quieting doubters at Utah
After starting off 0-2 in PAC-12 play, ASU got a much-needed win on the road at Utah, edging out the Utes 80-77 in an ugly and gritty game. Positives and negatives came out of this tough road win for Arizona State. Both Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice looked like their old selves by scoring 22 and 20 respectively. Evans and Justice needed a game like this to break their shooting slumps from the previous couple games. On a day when Tra Holder did not have his best shooting day, it was a relief for Sun Devil fans to see Kodi and Shannon take over the game.
Romello White continued to struggle, playing a total of 6 minutes the entire game due to foul trouble. As a unit, the Sun Devils did not have a great shooting night, but they shot 44.8% from the field which was better than the previous two games. One of the glaring weaknesses Arizona State has had to deal with since PAC-12 play started has been fouls and foul trouble. Players like Romello White and De ‘Quon Lake being in foul trouble constantly have hurt the Sun Devils especially in games down the stretch. ASU committed 31 fouls during the game against the Utes. Three Arizona State players ended up fouling out (White, Lake & Shibel), while four other players had three or more fouls. Most of these fouls were due to questionable officiating, but Bobby Hurley’s squad needs to adapt to how tight referees are calling a game.
A win’s a win no matter how ugly it may get on the road. Getting a much needed win over Utah in a hostile environment was huge for Arizona State. Going forward ASU can build off of this tough road trip which will benefit them later in the season.
Don’t Panic Yet
Every team has a rough patch in their season, and I believe ASU is going through it right now. At this point in the season, I don’t think it’s time to panic just yet. ASU has lost to a very good Arizona team in Tuscon and an underrated Colorado team who also just recently beat Arizona on Saturday. ASU has 4 out of their next 6 games at home against teams that they should beat. If ASU loses a couple of their next league games against teams such as Oregon State and Cal, then there is cause for concern. As of right now, shots haven’t been falling on the road and every team goes through a rough patch on the road in the PAC-12. Bobby Hurley will build upon the big win in Salt Lake City by leaning on the production of his guards. I believe ASU can compete for the Pac-12 Championship and make a deep postseason run in March.