MHoops: Arizona Schools Preview

Arizona State:
6 p.m. Thursday, Gill Coliseum, FOX Sports 1
Record: 8-6, 0-1 Pac-12
Last game: 73-49 loss to Arizona
Last season vs. OSU: ASU won first meeting Feb. 6 in Tempe, 86-82 in overtime; OSU won second meeting March 8 in Corvallis, 78-76, also in overtime
Series: ASU leads 24-12
Player to watch: Savon Goodman. The 6-6, 210-pound sophomore post is averaging 14.5 points, 8.3 rebounds in his past four games. During that span, he’s shooting 59 percent from the field. Goodman makes up being smaller post by finding ways to not only score, but grab rebounds.

No. 7 Arizona:
Tipoff: 7 p.m. Sunday, Gill Coliseum, FOX Sports 1
Record: 13-1, 1-0
Last game: 73-49 win over ASU
Last season vs. OSU: Won both meetings; 76-54 on Feb. 9 in Tuscon, and 74-69 on March 5 in Corvallis
Series: UA leads 58-20
Player to watch: Brandon Ashley. The 6-9, 230-pound junior is one of the top players in the nation. He’s averaging nearly 12 points and 6 rebounds per game, and will pose a serious challenge for the Beavers’ frontcourt players, who have struggled with foul troubles this season.

Coming off a frustrating loss to Oregon in their Pac-12 season opener this past Sunday, the Beavers (9-4, 0-1) look to get back on track and maintain their 8-0 record at home this week against the Arizona schools, but it won’t be easy.

One of the biggest takeaways from the Oregon game is that OSU’s depth is going to be an issue in Pac-12 play. The Beavers held strong in the first half, but eventually the Ducks wore them out and ran away with the game in the second half. Bad news, this weeks’ opponents are deeper.

ASU, Thursday’s opponent, doesn’t have the star power of UA, but is 11-men deep. Seven different Sun Devils have led team in scoring in games this season. Meanwhile, the Wildcats feature the athleticism and speed to simply run and wear down the Beavers on Sunday.

Both teams also feature strong post players, which might be the biggest concern for the Beavers. Daniel Gomis and Cheikh N’diaye have struggled to stay on the floor due to foul trouble. In addition to creating depth issues, their lack of playing time has also hindered their development. The Beavers them to grow this week and play meaningful minutes. At the very least, they can help clog up the paint.

Another thing to watch is how well the Beavers close on the shooter this week. Joseph Young made them pay last week, and ASU, especially has some sharp shooters. Meanwhile, the Beavers will need to do a better job this week of creating offensive opportunities for themselves.

Predictions: In the friendly confines of Gill, the Beavers eek out victory against ASU, but fall to Arizona.

As always, Go Beavs!

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