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The Arizona Wildcats had no trouble defeating their instate and conference rival Arizona State Sun Devils on New Years Eve in the McKale Center by a score of 68-51. The Wildcats improve their record to 10-4 and are 1-0 in the Pac-12 and the Sun Devils fall to 4-9 and are 0-1 in the conference.
The Wildcats were led by senior forward Jesse Perry, who scored 16 points, and freshman guard Nick Johnson, who scored 14. Solomon Hill also added and Jordin Mays and Kyle Fogg combined for 25 points. Kevin Perrom and Josiah Turner came off the bench and combined for 13 points.
The Sun Devils were led by junior center Ruslan Pateev, who scored 12 points. He was the only Sun Devil to score double digit points on the day. Carrick Felix, Keala King, Trent Lockett and Kyle Cain rounded out the rest of the starting lineup and combined for 25 points. Chanse Creekmur, Jordan Bachynski, Chris Colvin, Dave Whitmore and Jonathan Gilling came off the bench to add 16 points.
This is the third win in a row for the Wildcats, who take on the UCLA Bruins on the road on Thursday, and it's the fourth loss in a row for the Sun Devils, who face USC on the road also on Thursday.
The Arizona Wildcats have outplayed their in-state and conference rivals, the Arizona State Sun Devils by a score of 34-20 in their first meeting of the year through the first half in McKale Center on Saturday afternoon. Neither team has a player with more that eight points half way through the game.
The Wildcats are led by a pair of forwards, junior Solomon Hill and senior Jesse Perry, who both have eight points through the first 20 minutes of play. Kyle Fogg, Nick Johnson and Jordan Mayes, the rest of the starting lineup, have combined for 14 points, and Josiah Turner has added four points off the bench.
The Sun Devils are led by sophomore guard Keala King, who has scored eight points so far, and junior center Ruslan Pateev, who has four points. Starters Trent Lockett and Carrick Felix have both scored three and Kyle Cain has been held scoreless through the first half. Chris Colvin and Dave Whitmore have come off the bench to add four points each.
If the Wildcats keep it up in the second half this will be their third win in a row and it will be the Sun Devils' fourth loss in a row.
The first of two meetings between the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St. Sun Devils is here and it will kick off Pac-12 play for both programs. For the Wildcats, it is all about continuing to build off the improvements the team made in the month of December. For the Sun Devils, it's about getting back on track after a miserable slate of non-conference play.
Start Time: Tipoff from Tucson is set for 3:30 p.m.
TV Coverage: FOX Sports Arizona will carry the game across the entire state. If you are without FSNAZ, those in Tucson will find the game televised locally on KWBA.
Radio: 1290AM The Source will have the game in Tucson with Brian Jeffries on the call. KTAR 620AM will have the game in Phoenix and the surrounding areas.
Opening Line: The Wildcats are favored by 11.5 points on Saturday.
History: Arizona defeated ASU twice last season, once in Tucson and once in Tempe. The Wildcats lead the all-time series 142-80.
The Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St. Sun Devils will finally begin conference play on Saturday afternoon as the two instate rivals battle in Tucson. SB Nation Arizona has a complete breakdown of both teams; here are Scott Coleman's and Cody Ulm's final predictions for the game.
Scott Coleman: The Wildcats improved tremendously in the final weeks of non-conference play and I truly believe Sean Miller has Arizona prepare for Pac-12 play. The team opens the season with Arizona St., and when I look at the Sun Devils, I see a talented team without a point guard or big man to make everything run smoothly.
The Wildcats like to shoot the ball and shoot it from behind the arc. The biggest reason for ASU's struggles thus far has been their inability to cover shooters with their zone defense and in-turn struggle to rebound the ball. I see Kyle Fogg, Nick Johnson, Brendon Lavender and Jordin Mayes all having a big game.
The key for the UA is to slow down Trent Lockett and Keala King. Both players have blossomed into quality players for coach Sendek and they seem to always save their best for Tucson. It will be interesting to see if the 'Cats go small while trying to guard these two, or if the coaching staff attempts to bully both players with the size of Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom.
This game may set the record for the fewest touches by post players and it probably comes with reason. Other than Jesse Perry, neither team features a big man who can dominate on both ends of the floor. Arizona has struggled against skilled, athletic post players this season, but the Sun Devils don't really offer anything other than sheer size.
This game may stay close in the early going as ASU gives it their all to pull off the road win, but the McKale Center will be packed and the Wildcats have played well in recent weeks. Arizona pulls away in the second half behind a barrage of 3-pointers. UA wins 74-59.
Cody Ulm: It seems appropriate to kick of Pac-12 conference play against the Wildcats but at the same time, it's nothing that fans of the maroon and gold should be excited about. The Sun Devils haven't faced a team with a talent level anywhere near that of which their instate rival features and they could be in store for quite the reality shock.
Arizona State will most likely have no answer for Nick Johnson or Kyle Fogg and odds are one of the two may be looking at a new career-high in points following this one. The Sun Devils have been being absolutely owned by guards with a knack for scoring all season, the most recent example of this coming in their last game in which they gave up a season-high 30 points to Fresno State's Kevin Olekaibe. Both of the aforementioned Wildcats are excellent in transition and you can beat they will make ASU pay more than once on Saturday.
The Devils also haven't seen a talent quite like Solomon Hill yet either. Kyle Cain is sure to have his hands full and it will be interesting to see how Sendek attacks the skilled junior. Hopefully he drilled it in his front line to not get overly aggressive because Hill will undoubtedly make them pay as arguably the conference's best passing big man.
Trent Lockett's going to need to raise his play to another level for the Devils to have any chance in this one but that's a real possibility with Lockett scoring 17 points last time he visited Tucson. The Wildcats also haven't faced the new and improved Keala King which is definitely a factor ASU has working in the favor.
Truly though, odds are the Wildcats will dominate the glass so the Devils will have to make every shot count, especially with the team being a good bet for 15+ more turnovers. Chanse Creekmur, Carrick Felix and Jonathan Gilling will also need to be in the zone from the beyond the arc to balance out Fogg and Brendon Lavender's production.
As you can tell, that's a lot that needs to fall in place for this Arizona State team to have any sort of fighting chance. Hopefully, the Devils will just be able to keep it relatively close into the final minutes as that would be a real confidence booster, especially in the most hostile environment they will play in all season.
Arizona 78 - Sun Devils 60
All this week SB Nation Arizona is previewing the showdown between the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St. Sun Devil and their game on Saturday afternoon to kick off conference play. Scott Coleman and Cody Ulm are exchanging questions this week to give fans a feel for their team and what they think of their in-state rivals.
Q: When scouting the other team, what do you see?
Cody Ulm: As much as it pains me to say it, there's a lot to like with this Arizona Wildcats roster. Although I've only been able to watch to games this season, they have shown some true flashes of brilliance and it's easy to tell, at least in my opinion, that they are the most talent-rich roster in the Pac-12.
Of course, alongside those flashes of brilliance are stretches of head-scratching play but some growing pains are to be expected from such a young team. All four of the losses have come against above average teams but in a way I think their non-conference schedule has made them a more mentally tough team.
The first names that come to mind are Solomon Hill, Nick Johnson and Kyle Fogg but I'm a huge fan of Jesse Perry and what he's quietly done. From the little I've seen, Perry is a tough, hardnosed rebounder who also knows how to make the smart pass and can score a bucket or two. He's the type of player every team needs and he's not nearly getting the credit he deserves outside of Tucson.
Beyond those guys, I really think Kevin Parrom is the player that can really push this team over the top in the conference. A lot of people will point to Josiah Turner as this team can still definitely improve at ball handling but I think the issue is more about team-wide ball movement. If Parrom can continue to make strides while still recovering from that gunshot wound, it gives this squad another slasher that can make something happen when the Wildcats becomes stagnant.
Overall, I think this team is deep and developing but it's hard not think they will begin to reach their potential sooner rather than later. There are many solid one-on-one defenders on this team, which is a plus when trying to slow the Tony Wrotens and the Maurice Joneses of the conference. Sure, Arizona doesn't have a true center but they're athletic enough to rebound with the best they will face the rest of the way. Also, Fogg and Brandon Lavendar's range will come in handy as you always need at least two or three threats from deep to compete in the Pac-12.
Scott Coleman: When I look at the Sun Devils, I see a team that has some talent, although they are lacking a true point guard to run the show and a post presence that is needed to dominate down low. The loss of Jahii Carson cannot be overstated and the young ASU big men just aren't ready to handle as many minutes as they're typically called upon for.
Trent Lockett is obviously a very talented player and seems to always play well against Arizona, if memory serves me correctly. He is capable of taking over a game from behind the arc and he rebounds at a solid rate for a guard. Lockett will likely be guarded by Kyle Fogg on Saturday, which could prove to be the key matchup for the game. In addition to Lockett, Keala King has turned into a solid player under coach Sendeck and causes a lot of matchup problems with his athleticism.
Carrick Felix and Kyle Cain do a solid job on the wings for ASU, although it seems to me like both players have a tendency to disappear at times while on the court. Their matchups with Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom will definitely be something to watch.
As afore mentioned, I believe the Sun Devils are hurt most by their lack of a playmaker and distributor. Once Carson was ruled ineligible for the season, it was difficult to see ASU winning too many games against tough competition. Chris Colvin does a solid job in limited minutes working the ball around, but he isn't much of a scoring threat. Lockett and King do a decent job, but similar to Nick Johnson, who has had to fill in at times this season, neither is a true point guard and the offense suffers as a whole because of it.
The lack of true post players is also worrisome for the program. While Arizona isn't exactly loaded at the position, Jesse Perry and even Angelo Chol should not have too much trouble with the sized-yet-unskilled front court of Ruslan Pateev and Jordan Bachynski when they're on the court.
Stay tuned for more on this week's game between the Wildcats and Sun Devils, including a game preview and some final predictions. For continued coverage, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @SBNArizona, @ScottColeman_UA and @CodyUlm.
The Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St. Sun Devils will begin Pac-12 play on Saturday afternoon and SB Nation Arizona is previewing both the game and conference play for both teams. In this update, we take a look at which players will need to step up the most if they hope to help their team in the coming months. The questions and answers are presented by Scott Coleman and Cody Ulm.
Q: "What players need to step up as conference play begins?"
Cody Ulm: First and foremost, I'd like to see Trent Lockett finally take that next step. He's the face of this program, and rightfully so but if he doesn't improve his so-so play as of late, this might be Keala King's team sooner rather than later. Obviously it would also be nice to see some improved center play from Jordan Bachynski or Ruslan Pateev but I'm not going to be as bold as to predict a breakout stretch from either of them.
If you put a gun to my head and forced me to make a choice, I'd choose Bachynski just because of the fact he's had his best statistical lines against conference foes. Two players I do think are key to Arizona State's success though are Jonathan Gilling and Chanse Creekmur. With no real presence inside offensively, the Devils need their two best three point shooters to step up to open the floor for others to slash to the basket. Gilling, coming off the best game of his young career against Fresno State (seven points, three rebounds, three assists) would be the more beneficial of the two since he offers some versatility and has shown signs of being a reliable defender but Creekmur can be as hot as anybody when he's on as evident by the NAU game (5 of 8 from three for 15 points).
Scott Coleman: Josiah Turner is the key for this Arizona team and he has the potential to take the club to a completely different level. One of the best senior point guard in high school last season, the highly regarded recruit has struggled both on and off the court thus far in 2011, although we have seen flashes of brilliance from Turner at times. When he has his head straight, he distributes the ball better than most in the country and makes the offense flow much smoother. When he's suspended or does not play much because of disciplinary issues, Arizona often becomes stagnate offensively and has to rely on other guards to handle his duty.
The other key member will be Kevin Parrom. While the junior wing has done everything possible to recover from a gun shot wound he sustained in September, it is imperative for Parrom to stay healthy and to continue to improve. He is one of the best defenders on the team and does a little bit of everything for the Wildcats. The team needs a productive Parrom if they hope to win big in conference play.
Some production out of big man Kyryl Natyazhko would be nice, but no one in Tucson is holding their breath.
The Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St. Sun Devils are kicking off their first season of Pac-12 play this weekend in Tucson. Leading up to the game, SB Nation Arizona is both recapping and previewing the 'Cats and Devils. Here is the second part of the series, looking at conference play for both teams from Scott Coleman and Cody Ulm.
Q: Entering conference play, what will be needed for this to be considered a successful season?
Cody Ulm: Sad to say it, but at this point, it won't take much for this to be considered a successful season for Arizona State already sitting at 4-8. As I stated in our last Q&A post, I'm putting the over/under of conference wins at four for this team with two of those wins coming against the dismal Utah Utes. Obviously if this team could win Saturday's game, that'd be some serious bonus points but at this juncture, that's looking like a pipe dream.
Although 11 wins would be a regression from last season, I think most fans would definitely consider that "successful" for a roster that still hasn't found their true identity, especially if they could steal one against Stanford or Cal. Really though, as long as ASU's key components (Keala King, Kyle Cain, Carrick Felix, Trent Lockett and hopefully Chanse Creekmur) show some signs of continued progression, that will be successful enough for me to build some hope for a 2012 season that will have an influx of new talent.
Scott Coleman: Arizona certainly has the talent and ability to win the conference, although they will see multiple teams give them a run for their money. After overachieving last season and winning the conference championship, many in Tucson had high expectations for this club, even after they lost so much from last year. This being said, it's tough to imagine too many around the program being happy with anything less than a second place finish.
Of the 18 conference games on the slate, the UA should finish with a record no worse than 14-4. It's tough to imagine any team coming into McKale Center and knocking off the 'Cats at home other than maybe Washington or UCLA, but even then it'd be incredibly surprising to see Sean Miller lose a Pac-12 game at home. Should the team take care of business at home (9-0), they would need to win just five of their nine games on the road to hit their minimum record requirement.
In my estimation, Arizona will need to go something in the neighborhood of 15-3 in order for conference play to be considered a success. With no signature victory on their resumé, the Wildcats cannot afford to drop more than a couple games the rest of the way if they hope to reach March Madness. A strong showing in the conference tournament would be very welcome, as well, and would only help the team on Selection Sunday.
Q: What are the consequences if the team doesn't play well in the PAC-12?
Cody Ulm: Even with how critical I've been of this team, I really don't think there are many negative consequences for the Sun Devils if they don't play well in the PAC-12, as strange as that might sound. With the ink on Herb Sendek's two-year contract extension still wet, there's no way he's going anywhere no matter how poorly this team my play. And although the timing may have felt odd for some fans, I think we can all acknowledge the Sun Devil's current record is by no means an indictment of his coaching savvy.
In my humble opinion, he's the best coach this program can possibly get and fans should be ecstatic for at least one Arizona State program to have some stability. I also don't see any more players transferring, and definitely not Jahii Carson who seemed as committed as any player can be in his post-ineligibilty announcement press conference. This is truly a team playing with nothing to lose. Let's just hope they can actually use that mentality to their advantage.
Scott Coleman: If the Wildcats do not play well in the Pac-12 they likely do not make the NCAA tournament, which would be a huge blow to Sean Miller's reloading project. The team would always have a chance to win the conference tournament for an automatic bid for March Madness, but even that would be considered a disappointment by many.
Each of the four committed recruits for 2012 -- a group that has given the UA the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the nation -- have signed and there is basically no chance they look elsewhere, although it may hurt the recruiting efforts for 2013 in various ways. Coach Miller has done an excellent job locking down his players and it will pay dividends greatly in the spring.
It would be a pretty big step back for the program if they do not reach the tournament because of poor play in the Pac-12. It would not be a time to panic, but there would be plenty of frustration in Tucson among fans and boosters.
Stay tuned to SB Nation Arizona for complete coverage of the showdown between Arizona and Arizona St. The game is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 31 from Tucson.
A recap of UA and ASU's basketball seasons thus far, with a preview for Saturday's showdown.
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