No. 1 Kansas puts its undefeated record on the line on Saturday night when they travel to the desert to tangle with No. 18 Arizona State. As we all remember, ASU marched into Allen Fieldhouse last year, hit a zillion threes and upset the Jayhawks. That win helped the Sun Devils reach as high as No. 3 in the polls, but they ultimately they fell apart and barely squeaked into the NCAA Tournament. Kansas is already 1-0 in “revenge” games this season, as they took down Villanova last weekend in Lawrence. Saturday night could be a different story, as the trip to Tempe could be in many ways KU’s toughest test to date.
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Game Info and Notes:
- Saturday, December 22nd, 2018 at 8:00 PM CDT
- Wells Fargo Arena, Tempa, Ariz.
- ESPN2 or WatchESPN App
- Dave Pasch and BILL WALTON(!!!) are on the call
- Kansas and Arizona State are meeting for the 11th time in men’s basketball, and the series is tied at 5-5.
- Kansas is looking to go 11-0 for the first time since the 2010-11 team opened the season 18-0. An 11-0 record would be the fifth in head coach Bill Self’s 16 seasons at KU (14-0 in 2004-05, 20-0 in 2007-08, 14-0 in 2009-10 and 18-0 in 2010-11).
- At 10-0, Kansas has now won 10 or more consecutive games 16 times in Bill Self’s 16 seasons at KU. The 10 straight is the longest at KU since 2016-17 when the Jayhawks won 18-straight from Nov. 15, 2016 to Jan. 21, 2017.
- After its 74-71 win against No. 17/16 Villanova (12/15), Kansas improved to 3-0 against ranked foes this season with its other wins versus then-No. 10 Michigan State (11/6) and then-No. 5 Tennessee (11/23).
- The Jayhawks are 93-45 against AP top-25 teams in Bill Self’s 16 seasons, including a 29-11 mark since 2015-16.
- Kansas is the only team in the Big 12 with two players ranked in the top five in the league in scoring. Redshirt junior F Dedric Lawson is second in scoring at 19.7 ppg, while senior G Lagerald Vick is fifth at 17.1 ppg.
About the Sun Devils
ASU rides into the matchup with an 8-2 record. They are coming off a 16-point loss to Vanderbilt, and before that, they squeaked by a below-average Georgia team. Their only other loss is to No. 6 Nevada. That being said, they do have quality wins over Mississippi State and Utah State.
Three of ASU’s top four scorers did not play against KU last season, so it’s a bit of a new look team for Bobby Hurley’s squad. Remy Martin, who went off for 21 points against Kansas last season, is fourth on the team in scoring, but he has been boom or bust for the Sun Devils this season. Freshman Luguentz Dort leads the team at 19.9 PPG, which includes a very nice 24-point performance against Nevada. He dropped 33 points in a win over Utah State as well. He scores and he scores efficiently. Dort definitely has the capabilities of being a game-wrecker against the Jayhawks.
Sun Devils to Watch
Luguentz Dort – Freshman, Guard, 6’4″
Dort has scored in double figures in each of his 10 games to start his career. He can shoot it from deep, but can also take his man off the dribble and get to the basket. Dort is pulling down 5.5 RPG, while dishing out 2.2 APG. He does a little bit of everything for the Sun Devils. Marcus Garrett will have his hands full in this entertaining offense-defense clash.
Zylan Cheatham – Senior, Forward, 6’8″
The matchup between Cheatham and Dedric Lawson will be one to watch. Like Lawson, Cheatham has been a walking double-double this season, as he’s averaging 11.9 PPG and 10.1 RPG. He even had a triple-double against Texas Southern a few weeks ago.
Kimani Lawrence – Sophomore, Wing, 6’7″
Lawrence has taken a huge step forward this season. Last season as a freshman, he averaged just 9.8 minutes and 3.3 PPG. This season he’s jumped all the way to 31.2 MPG and is second on the team at 13.1 PPG. He’s hauling in 4.3 RPG, while shooting 38% from deep this season.
Arizona State 84, Kansas 75
I’m really not feeling too well going into this matchup. This is KU’s first true road test of the season, and while it is Christmas break, I expect Wells Fargo Arena to be rocking with the No. 1 team strolling into to town. I think that could play a factor with some of the young guys like Devin Dotson and Quentin Grimes. ASU also likes to chuck up threes, and at times Kansas, has had trouble guarding the perimeter this season.
Outside of two very impressive second halves against Wofford and South Dakota, KU has really yet to show their fangs to anyone this season. If they would have beaten Stanford and New Mexico State soundly and then won comfortably against Villanova, I might be feeling different about this one. KU has not shown me enough where I feel confident picking them to win in their first true road game of the season that happens to be against a top-20 opponent.
One thing to look for is if Charlie Moore can keep up his hot shooting. He went into the South Dakota game just 3-22 from three, and went on to knock down 6-9 threes against the Coyotes. Moore was a guy we all expected a little more of this season, and hopefully he’s turning a corner.
The Jayhawks will most likely be without Udoka Azubuike, who is recovering from an ankle injury. ASU most likely wouldn’t have been the best matchup for him anyways, so I’m not sure how much KU will miss him.
David McCormack was AWESOME off the bench for KU against South Dakota. I hope we see more of him going forward, cause he plays with a great attitude and great motor. It’ll be interesting to see how he matches up and how many minutes he gets against a team like ASU who likes to play small ball and hoist a bunch of threes.
We all knew a loss will happen sooner or later, and I think that will be Saturday night.
With all this being said, I won’t be shocked if it all of sudden clicks for KU and they boat-race ASU out of the gym, like what they did to Temple right before Christmas in 2009. They have done that many times before where you don’t feel too confident, but then they start the game out on fire and don’t look back.