Date: Today, 12:30 p.m. Tucson time
Location: Wells Fargo Arena (10,734), Tempe, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FOX Sports Net (Steve Physioc/Corey Williams)
Former Arizona Daily Star reporter/columnist Jack Magruder, who now writes for FoxSportsArizona.com, detailed this week how ASU’s man-to-man defense has made the Sun Devils more formidable. Magruder writes the man defense enables wing player carrick Felix, 6-foot-6, to track a body instead of an area. Felix negated 6-6 Oregon small forward E.J. Singler last Sunday, limiting Singler to one field goal in nine attempts in the Ducks’ 68-65 victory. Felix also had the primary defensive assignment on 6-7 Colorado power forward Andre Roberson the week before and limited him to five points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field in Arizona State’s 65-56 victory. Felix’s assignment today is primarily guarding Arizona’s Solomon Hill, who averages 13.6 points a game and is shooting 44.6 percent from three-point range (29-of-65). “It definitely will be a good matchup,” Felix told Magruder. “We are both big wings. We are both aggressive players. We kind of have a similar game. I definitely will be watching some film on him, just to brush up on some of his moves and what his tendencies are … I have a tremendous opportunity ahead of me — not just playing in the game, but to go against a player like Solomon Hill. Obviously, he is an NBA-type player. I just have to be ready. It’s going to be a battle for all 40 minutes.”
The most important player on the court today for Arizona will be senior point guard Mark Lyons. He must negate ASU freshman Jahii Carson and set the tone against an ASU defense that is limiting Pac-12 opponents to 36.9 percent shooting from the field. Carson Tweeted after Arizona beat San Diego State in the Diamond Head Classic title game that he is the best point guard in the Pac-12. Lyons leads the UA in scoring (14.6 points per game), free throw percentage (.861) and assists (3.3 per game). “Mark is our engine,” Hill was quoted as saying by Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com. “I’m pretty sure Mark is more geared up than anyone for this game.”
ASU 7-2 junior center Jordan Bachynski has 76 blocked shots (4.5 per game) which is more than Arizona (64) has as a team. Bachynski has more blocked shots than 284 teams overall. More than the blocked shot total is the aura around Bachynski being a guy who will alter shots. His presence will be on the mind of Arizona’s young interior players before they take their shots. To combat that, Arizona coach Sean Miller must come up with a way to avoid post-up situations and have more fluid movements of the basketball into the lane from Arizona’s perimeter players. The quickness of Nick Johnson and Lyons on the perimeter to penetrate and the willingness of Hill to attack Felix on the wing can draw Bachynski into a help situation and leave him more vulnerable. Arizona can not afford to be pass-happy on the perimeter and hesitant in its half-court set. Forcing ASU into double- and triple-team situations off the dribble and making the smart pass for a high-percentage shot is important.
Arizona’s freshmen interior players — Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski — should take it as a challenge that they can more than hold their own against Bachynksi and 7-foot reserve Ruslan Pateev. The Arizona post players, especially Jerrett and Ashley have a quickness advantage but give up size to Bachynski and Pateev. Jerrett became more of a defensive force against Oregon State, blocking six shots because of his ability to adjust and his long arms. The Wildcats had 12 blocked shots overall in the Oregon trip last weekend, which is 19 percent of what they’ve recorded all season. Jerrett also has a perimeter game that can draw Bachynski away from the basket unless ASU coach Herb Sendek switches his man-to-man assignments and keeps Bachynski guarding Ashley and Tarczewski even if Jerrett defends Bachynski on the other end. Miller must be encouraged with how Arizona rebounds — it leads the Pac-12 with a plus-9.6 margin — which is indicative of how aggressive the Wildcats can play around the basket.
With 89 assists and 99 field goals, Carson has played a part in 42.7 percent of team’s 385 buckets. He is that valuable, hence the importance of Lyons having a productive game against his counterpart. Carson has been afforded plenty of playing time to make his mark as a freshman. He averages 36.3 minutes per game, which leads the Pac-12. As noted in my Nothing But The Notes, none of ASU’s starters have fouled out this season. Carson has played 617 of a possible 685 minutes this season. He averages only 2.1 fouls per game. As long as Carson is on the court, ASU has a chance because he is the primary ball-handler. ASU’s top ball-handler off the bench, senior Chris Colvin, will not suit up because of a violation of team rules.
Arizona senior forward Kevin Parrom was a subject in Doug Haller’s Arizona Republic notes for the Arizona-ASU game. Haller is one of the best beat reporters in the Pac-12. The focus was on Parrom’s scuffles with ASU players when he was a freshman. Haller writes: “This rivalry has produced its villains over the years, none bigger, at least from ASU’s perspective, than Arizona senior Kevin Parrom.” During his first trip to Wells Fargo Arena as a freshman, Parrom delivered a hard foul on ASU guard Ty Abbott from behind. Parrom and Abbott had to be separated. A month later in Tucson, Parrom tangled with ASU guard Derek Glasser during the final seconds, forcing Miller to send Parrom to the locker room before the postgame handshake. Haller mentioned Parrom’s production as a sixth man — 8.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game — and he quotes Hill as saying that Parrom is not a dirty player. “I’ve seen my share of dirty players in Pac-12 play. Kevin’s not one of them,” Hill told Haller.
PAC-12 RPI ASSESSMENT
RPI based on CBSSports.com
|Rank||Team||Record||P12||Top50||SOS||*Quality Wins||**Poor Losses|
|3||Arizona||15-1||3-1||5-1||8||No. 4 Miami (N)/No. 6 Florida (H)/No. 22 Colorado (H)/No. 35 SDSU (N)/No. 40 Southern Miss (H)||None|
|22||Colorado||11-6||1-4||2-3||5||No. 25 Colorado State (H)/No. 43 Baylor (N)||None|
|29||Oregon||15-2||4-0||2-1||101||No. 3 Arizona (H)/No. 19 UNLV (A)||None|
|31||UCLA||15-3||5-0||3-1||53||No. 22 Colorado (A)/No. 23 Missouri (H)/No. 48 Indiana State (H)||No. 197 Cal Poly (H)|
|52||Washington||12-5||4-0||2-3||33||No. 22 Colorado (H)/No. 49 St. Louis (H)||No. 125 Albany (H)/No. 175 Nevada (H)|
|64||ASU||14-3||3-1||1-2||157||No. 22 Colorado (H)||No. 172 DePaul (H)|
|75||Stanford||10-7||1-3||0-5||36||None||No. 145 USC (A)|
|133||Oregon St.||10-7||0-4||0-4||98||None||No. 143 Towson (H)|
|145||USC||7-11||2-3||0-7||22||None||No. 135 Cal Irvine (H)/No. 211 Georgia (A)|
|170||Utah||6-9||0-5||1-3||60||No. 38 Boise State (H)||No. 145 USC (H)/No. 173 Washington St. (A)/No. 183 SMU (A)/No. 206 CSU-Northridge (H)/No. 285 Sacramento St. (H)|
|187||Wash. St.||10-7||1-3||0-3||176||None||No. 187 Pepperdine (A)|
*-Wins vs. Top 50 teams
**-Losses vs. Top 100 teams or lower
SOS-Strength of schedule
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner