ASU MBB: Sun Devils take on Stanford

Coming off a must needed win against Central Arkansas, the Sun Devils will face Stanford at Maples Pavilion in the Pac-12 Conference opener. The Sun Devils will fight to keep their record above .500 as they kick off the conference season.

Stanford, currently 8-4 for the year, started the season 6-1 but has since slowed their run losing to No. 12 Saint Mary’s and No. 4 Kansas. Like Arizona State, Stanford will be riding on momentum after coming off an 86-80 win against Idaho.

With junior Reid Travis leading both Stanford’s offense and defense, the 6’8″ forward will be a major threat to ASU’s small ball game. Averaging 17.8 points and 9.8 rebounds and coming off of a double-double against Idaho, with 20 points and 12 rebounds, Travis will likely expose the gaping weakness in ASU’s frontcourt.

Alongside Travis, junior guard/forward Dorian Pickens will add not only to Stanford’s frontcourt, but has been efficient in the backcourt as well. After recording 21 of his 25 points against Idaho from behind the arc, Pickens will test the Sun Devils’ ability to defend in the backcourt as well.

After four-star wing Sam Cunliffe announced his departure from the team, the Sun Devils have gone 1-2 after losing to New Mexico and No. 9 Creighton. However, after their 98-62 win over Central Arkansas, it’s clear that small ball will live on for ASU basketball.

Guards Tra Holder, Shannon Evans II and Torian Graham proved that they will keep Bobby Hurley’s perimeter game afloat after combining for 71 of the Sun Devils 98 points against Central Arkansas. Holder and Evans also led the Sun Devils in distribution as Holder recorded 9 assists and Evans 8.

Stepping up for the Sun Devils in the frontcourt, senior forward Obinna Oleka will be a key player for ASU as they face Stanford’s frontcourt heavy offense. After recording a double-double with 18 points and 17 rebounds against Central Arkansas, Oleka has been the designated big-man for ASU’s backcourt heavy offense.

ASU’s scoring ability has been their most dangerous asset this season; however, the Sun Devils will also need to capitalize on their ability to keep the ball moving and find the open player as they get ready to face Stanford.

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