ASU MBB: Sun Devils get Davidson for Fifth Place

After splitting the first two games of the Tire Pros Invitational, ASU Basketball will play the Davidson Wildcats in the fifth-place game on Sunday.

How They Got to This Point

The Sun Devils suffered a disappointing  first-round loss at the Tire Pros Invitational to Northern Iowa but bounced back against Tulane on Friday.

Davidson lost its opening round matchup against Clemson but rebounded nicely to come away with a double-digit win over Missouri.

Scoring Adjustments

The Wildcats will be an interesting match up for the Sun Devils. The team generally runs a permieter based offense, like ASU.

Against Missouri,  Davidson did most of its damage around the rim.

During the loss to Clemson, the Wildcats’ first six field goals were three-pointers but in the victory over Missouri, four of the team’s first six scoring plays consisted of two layups, a dunk and a post-up play.

The change of attacking the basket is an adjustment that can positively affect Davidson against a team that plays small-ball as much as Arizona State if head coach Bob McKillop chooses to continue over from last game.

For ASU, the team was left in an early hole against Northern Iowa due to the Panthers riding a hot hand from beyond the arc that was sustained for much of the game. This caused the Sun Devils to panic, abandoning an aggressive style of play in favor of low-quality jumpers.

In their second game, the Sun Devils moved the ball much quicker, allowing head coach Bobby Hurleys’ team to get its fair share of open looks and to get to the free throw line. Aside from a late run by the Green Wave, ASU played a complete game.

Players to Watch

For Davidson, Jack Gibbs will pose a threat to the Sun Devils. Gibbs, who scored 25 points along with four assists and two steals against Clemson, will put ASU’s defense to the test as a guard who can create his own shot, get to the basket and be a threat from downtown.

In the preseason, CBS Sports predicted that Gibbs will lead the nation in points per game.

In the frontcourt, forward Peyton Aldridge should give ASU issues with his size. The 6-foot-8 junior has recorded per game averages of 24.7 points and 7.3  rebounds through three games, showing an ability to be a low-post presence who can step out and hit threes.

Arizona State  will need another big performance from guard Torian Graham to leave Orlando with a second win. The senior transfer has provided an explosive spar off the bench this season, averaging 20.5 points after putting up 22 points against Tulane.

Graham  was promoted to the starting lineup over Kodi Justice against UNI but the rotation was kept the same for Tulane.  Usually slow to start the game, ASU jumped to an early  8-1 lead in the Tulane game.

The Sun Devils will need another fast start against Davidson if they want to avoid chasing a team that is just as good at scoring.

Freshman wing Sam Cunliffe and junior guard Shannon Evans II have seemed to settle into  Hurley’s up-tempo style as the true freshman recorded double digits for the first time in his career while Evans established a level of comfortability behind the line, nailing four threes.

The duo combined for six of the Sun Devils’ 12 threes.

Key to the Game

ASU will have to capitalize on their three-point shooting against Gibbs and the Wildcats. Outside of limiting Gibbs, ASU will have to efficiently move the ball  to find open shots to neutralize the  high scoring ability of Davidson.

Tipoff between Arizona State and Davidson will be at noon MST on Sunday. The game can be seen on ESPNU.

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