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Husker Hoops: Scouting the Arizona State Sun Devils

Coach: Herb Sendek (3rd Season at ASU (34-36), 15th Overall (288-194))

Team Stats: Offense 75.,9 PPG, Defense 59.6 PPG.  Key Numbers: 62.4% 2pt FG% (2nd Nationally), 38.2% 3pt FG%.

Series vs. Nebraska: Tied, 3-3 (home teams have won all 6 meetings); Last Meeting: 2007, at Nebraska (NU 62, ASU 47)

Opponents' BlogHouse of Sparky

Projected Starting Lineup:

  • G Derek Glaser (6-1 Jr, 4.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.1 APG)
  • G Ty Abbot (6-3 So, 10.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG)
  • G/F James Harden (6-5 So, 26.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.0 APG)
  • F Rihards Kuksiks (6-6 So, 8.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG)
  • F Jeff Pendergraph (6-9 Sr, 13,1 PPG, 6.1 RPG)

Bench: The Sun Devils' Bench only chips in 13.1 PPG, and almost all of that comes from two players: Jerren Shipp (5.7 PPG) and Jamelle McMillan (4.0 PPG).

When Arizona State has the ball: The Sun Devils will use their penetration to set up 3 point shots.  Note that Harden and Pendergraph score almost exactly half of the Sun Devils' points, and the ball always goes through Harden.  Harden's a true stud, and has the abilty to take over a game (40 pts vs UTEP last weekend).

Expect Ryan Anderson and Ade Dagunduro to spend a lot of time guarding Harden.  They managed to hold him to only 8 points last year.  Don't expect that same performance this year, but if they can hold hime 8-10 points below his average, that may be enough to make this game winnable.

The Sun Devils aren't the greatest ball-handling team (they turn the ball over on 20.5% of possessions, smack in the middle nationally), which plays into Nebraska's hands (forcing turnovers on 28.6% of opposing possessions -- 6th nationally, and getting steals on 15.3% of opposing possesions -- 3rd nationally).

Arizona State doesn't get a lot of offensive boards (because they don't miss a lot of shots), but the Huskers will still need to work to keep ASU from getting second-chance points, especially with how good they are up close.  Also expect the Sun Devils to try to penetrate as much as possible -- NU's opponents shoot less than 25% from 3pt land.

When Nebraska has the Ball: Arizona plays zone, and plays lots of it.  Their defense is all about keeping their opponents from getting penetration and begging them to shoot 3s.  Baylor succeeded, shooting 46.7% from beyond the arc (11% higher than their season average).  The Huskers shoot 40.1% from behind the arc (40th nationally), so there's the possibility that they could take advantage of this.

However, the Huskers must get penetration to make their 3pt game work.  Some early 3s and transition baskets could open some driving lanes up, and allow NU to stay in the game.  However, if the Huskers get cold from long-range, the ability of ASU's zone to shut off passing and driving lanes could make it a very long afternoon for the Husker offense.

Why Arizona State Could Win:  See the 62% shooting.  If Arizona State is getting inside all day, they'll keep putting up baskets they can hit.  If Harden gets hot, really look out.  Nebraska's inexplicable cold streaks could play a factor, too.  The Sun Devils could use a  long scoreless streak by the Huskers to put the game out of reach.  Also don't discount the revenge factor, as this is pretty much (personnel-wise) the same team that got smoked in Lincoln last year.

Why Nebraska Could Win:  Oddly enough, this matchup plays to Nebraska's strengths to some extent.  The Huskers should be able to force some turnovers and turn them into easy buckets.  The Huskers also shoot very well from beyond the arc, and are actually shooting better from long range with the new 3pt line.  Don't discount the confidence factor -- the Huskers have been on fire for the last game and a half offensively, and all season defensively, not to mention that they know they can beat these guys -- they did it last year.

What Will Happen:  Nebraska will hold Harden down well below his average and frustrate the Sun Devils' offense for most of the game.  The Huskers will have a few hot streaks shooting, but won't be able to get enough penetration down the stretch to avoid a long cold streak.  It will be a fight down the stretch, but Arizona State will hold off a late NU rally, 65-59.