Game 9: No. 16 Arizona State at No. 2 Kansas – Preview and Prediction

A difficult matchup awaits the Jayhawks, who look to rebound off their first loss of the year by taking on Arizona State at Allen Fieldhouse.

Looking to bounce back after a stunning and disappointing loss at Sprint Center, No. 2 Kansas welcomes the Arizona State Sun Devils to Allen Fieldhouse for a top-20 showdown on Sunday afternoon.

About Arizona State: One of seven undefeated teams in Division I college basketball, the Sun Devils are 8-0 behind one of the best offenses in the country. The Sun Devils whipped then-No. 15 Xavier by 16 in the Las Vegas Invitational last month, and ever since, they’ve been on the map as the potential favorite in the Pac 12.

Game Info and Notes:

  • Sunday, December 10th, 2017 at 1:00 pm
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas
  • ESPN or the WatchESPN app
  • Arizona State’s best win of the year came in Las Vegas against Xavier. The only other power-five team they have defeated is Kansas State, which was in that same tournament.
  • The Sun Devils are averaging more than 90 points per game
  • Kansas leads the all-time series 5-4, but they’ve won five of the six matchups since 1979.
  • The most recent matchup came in the second round of the 2003 NCAA tournament, where No. 2 Kansas beat No. 10 Arizona State by 32 points.
Sun Devils to Watch

Tra’ Holder, 6’1″ guard

Holder is arguably the best player in the Pac 12. Averaging 20.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game, Holder is an assassin at driving to the basket. Of course, teams that force him to stay out on the perimeter have to watch out for his three-point shot, where he shoots a sizzling 45%. He can do it all, and whatever Jayhawk guards him is in for a heck of an experience.

Shannon Evans, 6’1″ guard

Evans is the team’s point guard, averaging a team-leading 5.3 assists per game. He also contributes 18.6 points per contest and leads the team with an 87% free-throw clip. Like Evans, he shoots a deadly percentage on threes at 43%.

Romello White, 6’8″ forward

The blue-chip recruit in the Sun Devils’ 2017 class, White leads the squad with 9.3 rebounds per game and adds in 16.6 points. His 71% shooting clip from the floor masks his mediocre free-throw shooting, and for a power forward that plays 30 minutes per contest, he’s been exceptional at staying out of foul trouble this year.

Prediction

Kansas 92 – Arizona State 81

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

Look. Arizona State is a fabulous offensive team. They can score from every position on the floor. They’re lethal on three-pointers. They’re fast, precise, and athletic in the open floor. This is absolutely a team that should give Kansas fans every reason to worry.

Recency bias is a powerful thing. The last time we saw Kansas’ offense, it was stinking up the Sprint Center with a horrific all-around performance. People need to remember that the Jayhawks will match Arizona State with an elite offensive attack that will likely feature a major bounce-back performance from three-point land.

Kansas is better than Arizona State. Allen Fieldhouse offers a massive home-court advantage. The two teams are similar and play similar styles, and the score will be huge because both teams play so fast. But Kansas is used to being on this stage, and Arizona State isn’t. Make no mistake about it – the Jayhawks are good – offensively great – and they belong on the short list of elite teams in college basketball.

This is a game that KU could lose. But it’s not one that they’re going to.

Ryan Landreth

I’m a recent graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University. In addition to writing for Rock Chalk Blog, I host the Inside the Paint podcast that covers KU basketball, and I write for Royals Review in the summer. My grandma has had season tickets to Jayhawk basketball for 30 years, and I have the privilege of going to most games with her.