Arizona State began the season expected to finish sixth in the Pac-12 Conference; it turns out a little over a month in that projection would have been too low even if it had been conducted on a national scale. Off to their best start ever, the fourth-ranked Sun Devils attempt to tie the second-longest winning streak in school history Tuesday when they host Longwood.
Highlighted by double-digit wins over No. 8 Xavier and No. 13 Kansas, Arizona State appears well on its way to blow right past last season’s 15-win campaign, as it is one of four remaining undefeated Division I teams following Sunday’s 76-64 comeback victory against Vanderbilt. Although their eighth-ranked scoring offense (90.2 points) was held to a season-low point total, the Sun Devils used a 26-3 run spanning halftime to pull away from the Commodores after falling behind 13-0 early. “Well, I guess we can play a little defense too. It was such a great feeling to coach that game, see us go on that second-half run and hear the crowd roar like I haven’t heard since I got here. I‘m in amazement of what these guys do,” third-year coach Bobby Hurley said. Arizona State last won 11 straight games in 1980-81 and can reach that mark by defeating the Lancers, who fell to 0-8 against Division I programs this season following Saturday’s 69-62 defeat against Cornell.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT LONGWOOD (3-8): The Lancers, who ended a 21-game losing streak on Nov. 26 with a win over Division III foe North Carolina Wesleyan, managed to keep pace with the Big Red despite the absence of two of their top three scorers - guards Isaiah Walton (17.2 points) and Charles Glover (8.7). Coach Jayson Gee praised the performances of freshman guard Kamil Chapman, who scored a team-high 13 points Saturday, and sophomore forward JaShaun Smith, who added 12 points and did not commit a turnover in 35 minutes. B.K. Ashe - a 6-1 senior guard who is one of only four Lancers to play in every game this season - grabbed nine rebounds but played a key role in Longwood’s 35.3-percent shooting, as he finished 4-of-18 from the field.
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (10-0): Tra Holder (21.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists), who averaged 34.5 points in the wins against Xavier and Kansas, poured in 25 Sunday and needs the same number Tuesday to pass Paul Williams (1,455; 1979-83) for sole possession of 11th place on the school’s all-time scoring list. Like Holder, fellow senior guards Shannon Evans II (18.6 points) and Kodi Justice (13.4) play at least 33 minutes per game, have already buried at least 25 3-pointers and shoot over 40 percent beyond the arc. All of the offensive punch has made things easier for freshman forward Romello White (15.7 points, 9.0 rebounds), who has routinely struggled with foul trouble but ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage (69).
1. In his first extended playing time since gaining his eligibility Dec. 10, Arizona State F Mickey Mitchell - an Ohio State transfer - tallied eight points and a career-high 13 rebounds in 24 minutes versus Vanderbilt.
2. The Lancers boast the Big South’s stingiest 3-point defense, holding opponents to 29.2 percent beyond the arc - 25th-best in Division I.
3. The Sun Devils have scored 56 or more points in a half four times this season. Over the previous 14 seasons, they managed that feat only five times.
PREDICTION: Arizona State 107, Longwood 63