So here’s the deal with the Sun Devils: they’re not very good. Sitting at just over .500 with a 9-7 record, this is a game that Utah should definitely win. However, as we have learned with the Runnin’ Utes in recent years, games away from the Huntsman Center can sometimes be more difficult than envisioned before tip-off. Who knows whether that’s a coaching thing or if it falls on the shoulders of the players, but either way, this will be the first test of the season to see if they can handle Pac-12 play on the road.
**(Arizona in the McKale Center isn’t the best way to determine this, as the Wildcats are historically dominant in their home arena and, as much as it pains me to admit, simply better.)**
The Sun Devils have losses to good teams and losses to bad teams, but not really any good wins. Winning at San Diego State is probably the best win they have on their resume to date, but they were able to give top-ranked Creighton a run for their money at home. If ASU plays as well as they did in that game, Utah will undoubtedly have to show up if it wants to walk away victorious.
And, of course, you can’t talk about Arizona State’s home-court advantage without mentioning their famed Curtain of Distraction. While it’s welcomed more by the ASU student body and players, it’s a tradition that all college basketball fans around the country have grown to love and will surely have an effect on this game.
ASU is led by Torian Graham (18.3 PPG), Tra Holder (17.1) and Shannon Evans II (15.4) with not much scoring elsewhere. The Sun Devils do average 82.3 points per game, a single point higher than Utah, but their 82.4 points against per game is a statistic that should have Krystkowiak licking his chops when preparing for this one.
Again, this is a game that Utah could, and should, win. The Runnin’ Utes have better individual players and they play better as a team, which is the more important of the two. If Krystkowiak can’t get his guys ready to play on the road, though, this game might be closer than expected.