Preview: ASU at Oregon State
After being swept by the L.A. schools last week, Arizona State (4-5 overall, 1-2 conference) is looking to end a three-game skid in a Saturday evening matchup against Oregon State.
ASU was scheduled to face Oregon on Thursday, but the game got postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Ducks’ program.
Postponed games have become an all-too-familiar occurrence for the Sun Devils, who has had their fair share of scheduling faux pas this season. Five of the team’s last seven contests—including four conference matchups—have not been played due to COVID-19.
Bobby Hurley said the wacky nature of this season has made it difficult for his squad to find any semblance of rhythm or consistency.
“Having the disruptions make it a little more challenging,” Hurley admitted in a Zoom call with reporters on Thursday.
“But it’s not exclusive to Arizona State. It’s everywhere, so all the coaches have to deal with it. The team we’re playing on Saturday (Oregon State) has been through a similar thing having missed a week themselves.”
The additional time off this week, however, has allowed Remy Martin to work his way back into game shape. The Preseason All-American missed both contests last week so he could attend his grandfather’s funeral.
Hurley said the senior guard has had a good week of practice, and was encouraged with the offensive chemistry forming between Martin and freshman guard Josh Christopher.
According to Hurley, ASU has concentrated primarily on its offense this week, hoping to reverse the team’s season-long shooting woes, which continued against the L.A. schools.
The Sun Devils shot only 38.9 percent from the field (including 6-of-21 from 3-point range) against UCLA last Thursday, and it was even worse—33.9 percent—versus USC two days later.
“I hope we can get some continuity, get some chemistry on offense,” Hurley said. “And now that we’re getting guys back, we hope to improve in some of those areas. I had a vision of this being an outstanding offensive team coming in [to the season], and it hasn’t really come together the way we hoped.”
While the Sun Devils are still searching for offensive consistency, they made some significant strides on the other end of the floor last week, holding their opponents to 45 and 39 percent shooting, respectively. While it’s far from perfect, it’s a step in the right direction, which has Hurley optimistic the season’s long-term outlook.
Perhaps more importantly, the Sun Devils finally exhibited the fighting spirit that Hurley has repeatedly asked for but not always received this season.
“You don’t want to hang your hats on moral victories—you want to win games—but I liked our competitive spirit,” Hurley said.
“I thought we battled; I thought there was a will to win. There were a lot of gut-check moments in both games, and we were up to the challenge. If we can bottle that up and add a little more efficiency on offense and get a little better on that end of the floor, then we have a chance to go on a run.”
Note: After having four rotation players out last week, ASU is slowly returning to full-strength. In addition to Martin’s return, sophomore guard Jaelen House should also be available for Saturday’s game. Hurley said sophomore center Jalen Graham (mono) is expected to return to action in the near future, while junior forward Taeshon Cherry continues to take some time away from basketball for personal reasons.
Oregon State (5-5 overall, 1-3 conference) limps into Saturday’s matchup after suffering an ugly 98-64 loss to Arizona on Thursday night.
The Beavers were dominated from start to finish in one of the worst of the losses in Wayne Tinkle’s seven-year tenure as Oregon State’s head coach.
The 34-point margin marked the program’s worst home-court defeat since 2010, and prompted Tinkle to vent about his team’s “lack of fight and focus” to reporters after the game.
He also called out his players for their selfishness, and said they looked “tired” and “physically weak” in the blowout loss.
As a result of the loss, Oregon State fell from 198 to 232 in the NET rankings. Among Power 5 schools, only Washington (251) is currently ranked lower.
Thursday’s performance continues a rough season for Oregon State, who has struggled to find its identity.
Much like Arizona State, the Beavers have not been able to find a rhythm this season, due in large part to multiple conference games being postponed due to COVID-19 issues.
When they have been able to play, however, Oregon State has not looked overly impressive.
On offense, the Beavers are one of the worst shooting teams in the Pac-12, converting only 39.5 percent of its field-goal attempts this season (against Division-I competition). In conference play, they have managed to score only 66 points per game.
There are plenty of issues at the end of the floor as well, where the Beavers have the worst defensive efficiency of any Pac-12 team, according to KenPom.
One of the few bright spots for Oregon State has been the play of its senior backcourt of Ethan Thompson and Zach Reichle.
Thompson, who is arguably one of the top all-around guards in the conference, is among the league leaders in scoring (16 points per game) and assists (4.1), while Reichle (8.8 PPG), a role player in his first three seasons has been featured more prominently this year.
In the frontcourt, the Beavers are led by junior Warith Alatishe, a transfer from Nicholls State. The combo forward is a high-energy player with a relentless motor. Alatishe is the team’s best defender and among the league leaders in rebounds (8.1) and blocks (2.0).
Starting alongside Alatishe is another newcomer -- junior forward Maurice Calloo. The JUCO product adds size (6-10) and versatility to the Beavers’ frontcourt. He is also one of the top 3-point shooters in the conference (43.8 percent).
The final spot in Oregon State’s starting five is seemingly up for grabs. The Beavers have cycled through multiple big men – Roman Silva, Dearon Tucker, and Rodrigue Andela – with limited success.
Oregon State typically goes ten deep into its rotation, with a bulk of the bench minutes going to guards Jarrod Lucas and Gianni Hunt. The sophomore duo provides scoring and perimeter shooting for the Beavers’ second unit. Lucas is among the league’s top scoring bench players (12.3 PPG), while Hunt is one of the Pac-12’s top 3-point shooters (42 percent).
G Remy Martin, 6-0, Sr. (16.9 PPG, 3 RPG, 3.6 APG)
G Alonzo Verge, 6-2, Sr. (17 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG)
G Josh Christopher, 6-5, Fr. (16.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.4 SPG)
F Marcus Bagley, 6-8, Fr. (12.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 37.5% 3PT)
F Chris Osten, 6-9, Jr. (3.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 61.9% FG)
G Ethan Thompson, 6-5, Sr. (16 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.1 APG)
G Zach Reichle, 6-5, Sr. (8.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.8 APG)
F Warith Alatishe, 6-7, Jr. (9.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2 BPG)
F Maurice Calloo, 6-10, Jr. (8.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 43.8% 3PT)
F Rodrigue Andela, 6-8, Jr. (3.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.5 BPG)
Key Stat: During his tenure as ASU’s head coach, Bobby Hurley has dominated Oregon State. He has a 7-1 (regular season) record against the Beavers and has won three of four in Corvallis.
X-Factor: Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding. The Sun Devils’ issues on the glass have been well documented this season. ASU has been out-rebounded in every game except one (the season opener versus Rhode Island), and are near the bottom of the Pac-12 in offensive rebounds (7.4 per game) and total rebounds (32.2).
“We have to exert more effort on second chances,” said freshman forward Marcus Bagley. “Getting defensive rebounds and crashing the offensive boards… [Coach Bobby Hurley] has brought that to our attention.”
Prediction: ASU 78, Oregon State 70
When: 5:00 pm MST
Where: Gill Coliseum – Corvallis, Ore.
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks / 620 AM
Up Next: The Sun Devils host Arizona on Thursday (7:00 pm MST).