The Arizona State Sun Devils tip off Pac-12 Conference play Sunday in Tucson against their hated rival Arizona Wildcats.
ASU heads into Pac-12 play at 8-5, still in the process of finding an identity in a season with seven new players and no Jahii Carson.
After opening the season 3-0, the Sun Devils have evened out, going .500 since the first week of the season. Home dominance is a major factor in their winning record, as all eight of the Devils’ wins this season have come on home court.
A young team with only three seniors on the squad, ASU’s inconsistency can be attributed to inexperience. Their two top average scorers are sophomore Savon Goodman (15.8) and Junior Gerry Blakes (12.2). However, senior Shaquielle McKissic is the team’s rock, starting every game and averaging 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds.
The Sun Devils sit in the middle of the pack among Pac-12 teams in most categories heading into conference play. ASU ranks fifth in points scored (73.5 per game) and eighth in points allowed (63.2).
Here’s a closer look at the Sun Devils heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Wildcats, by the numbers:
The Sun Devils have struggled in close games this season. ASU is 0-4 in games decided by five points or fewer. In games decided by fewer than 10 points, ASU is 2-5.
This can be looked at two different ways. The Sun Devils have been in every game this season, never losing by more than seven points. But, they are more likely to play close games in Pac-12 play and cannot afford to lose the majority of them.
Coach Herb Sendek has tinkered with his starting lineup plenty through the season’s first 13 games, using four different combinations. Only three players started every single game on the floor: guard Gerry Blakes and forwards Eric Jacobsen and Shaquielle McKissic.
Eleven teams in the Pac-12 have a positive scoring differential heading into conference play and Arizona State is one of them. ASU’s +10.3 points-per-game differential ranks seventh in the conference.
The Sun Devils are beginning to open up a real home-court advantage at Wells Fargo Arena. A triple-overtime defeat by Lehigh in late December snapped ASU’s 14-game home winning streak, however the Sun Devils are still 8-1 in Tempe this season.
Newcomer Savon Goodman has been sensational in his brief time with ASU. The sophomore’s journey to Arizona State follows a long, complicated road from Philadelphia to UNLV to JUCO and finally Tempe.
Goodman was not eligible to play until mid-December, but was a real difference maker in his four games. He leads the team in points-per-game (15.8) and rebounds-per game (8).
Swatting away opponents’ shots in not something the Sun Devils do well. ASU ranks last by a healthy margin in the Pac-12 in blocked shots with 35 (2.69 per game). A whopping 20 of the team’s 35 blocks come from Jacobsen. No other player has more than four.
ASU is on fire from beyond the arc, shooting 39.1 percent from long range (102-261). They rank No. 1 in the Pac-12 and No. 29 in the country in 3-point percentage.
That ranking is due in no small part to forward Jonathan Gilling. He leads the team with a 52.7 3-point shooting percentage, ranking 19th in the country.
The Sun Devils have held opponents under 60 points six times this season, winning all six of those games. It’s a good start considering ASU held opponents under 60 points seven times all of last season.