Ranked for the first time in nine years, No. 21 Arizona State looks to remain unbeaten Saturday as the Sun Devils face visiting San Francisco from the West Coast Conference. With senior guards Shannon Evans II, Tra Holder and Kodi Justice leading the way, the 6-0 Sun Devils are averaging 95.7 points per game while shooting a remarkable 54.2 percent from the field.
Holder was named the Pac-12 player of the week for the second straight time after scoring a career-high 40 points in last Friday’s 102-86 win over Xavier in the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational. After trailing the Musketeers by as many as 15 points in the first half, the Sun Devils stormed back behind Holder, who was named tournament MVP after shooting 14-of-22 from the field, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range. Evans, Holder and Justice are each shooting at least 44 percent from beyond the arc for the Sun Devils, who shot 55.9 percent from the field in the win over Xavier. “This is the best offensive team by far that I’ve coached,” coach Bobby Hurley told reporters. “There are many ways that we can attack an opponent. We didn’t even have a great inside scoring game from the frontcourt (against Xavier), but the guards were unstoppable.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO (3-2): Freshman guard Souley Boum averages 15 points to lead the Dons, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end with last Tuesday’s 79-72 loss to UC Santa Barbara. Picked to finish fourth in the WCC preseason poll, the Dons are shooting 41.5 percent from the field but just 28.5 percent from 3-point range. Senior forward Chase Foster is averaging 14.2 points and 5.4 rebounds, but the Dons have struggled at times without sophomore swingman Charles Minlend, a member of the preseason All-WCC team who remains out with a shoulder injury.
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (6-0): The Sun Devils only have three active players listed at 6-foot-5 or taller but should receive a boost inside when freshman forward Kimani Lawrence (foot injury) and sophomore forward Mickey Mitchell (mid-year transfer) join the team in the next few weeks. Freshman Romello White, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward from Georgia, has made an immediate impact while averaging 15.6 points on 67.6 percent shooting. Hurley has also been pleased by the play of junior college transfer De‘Quon Lake, a 6-foot-10 forward who averaged nine points and nine boards in wins over Kansas State and Xavier last week.
1. The Sun Devils are seeking their first 7-0 start since 1980-81.
2. San Francisco’s bench has scored at least 26 points in five consecutive games.
3. Mitchell is expected to become eligible by Dec. 10, when Arizona State faces Kansas in Lawrence.
PREDICTION: Arizona State 97, San Francisco 71