The party never happened in Corvallis as Oregon State battled but just could not contain Jahii Carson and Carrick Felix as the Sun Devils won their Pac-12 road opener, 72-62. Carson scored 20 points and turned the ball over twice while flying up and down the court while Felix put together his fifth double-double of the season with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
When the season began, it wasn't hard to imagine a 14-2 start due to the paltry non-conference schedule but nobody expected this team to play at a tempo that had long been promised but never delivered. This team plays at a fast pace, scores over a point per possession and Jahii Carson's speed is astonishing – a far cry from seasons past in which scoring 50 points was often am aberration. Winning a game on the road against an upstart Oregon team that can claim victories over UNLV and Arizona would be a huge accomplishment for a Sun Devil team picked to finish at or near the cellar in Pac-12 play.
Dana Altman: Third season at Oregon – 58-30; 467-273 career
Herb Sendek: 7th season at ASU – 112-97; 366-265 career
G – Dominic Artis (10.1 PPG, 3.6 APG) vs. Jahii Carson (16.9 PPG, 5.3 APG)
F – Carlos Emory (10.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG) vs. Carrick Felix (15.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG)
F – E.J. Singler (10.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG) vs. Jon Gilling (9.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG)
Why Oregon Can Win:
The Ducks are playing at home and coming off a huge win. There are two conclusions one can draw: they will ambush anyone else who walks into their gym or they will come out flat and complacent. Like ASU, Oregon's non-conference slate was less than daunting and split their two notable games with a win over UNLV and a loss to Cincinnati – both ranked teams.
Arizona aside, the jury remains out on these Ducks and despite extraordinary balance across the board (all five starters average in double figures but no one over 11.6 PPG) and great depth (nine players average more than 12 minutes per game), the Ducks do nothing statistically that wow anyone however if Oregon executes their game plan and forces ASU to settle for outside shots and get the Devils into foul trouble, the Ducks will see their home winning streak extend to 18 games.
Why ASU Can Win:
Get hot, stay hot. These are unchartered waters the Sun Devils are swimming in as the taste of success has been elusive in the past three seasons and that is dangerous for anyone who has oppose them.
Jahii Carson is the igniter but Carrick Felix's star is the one shining brightest. In his first two seasons on campus, Felix had zero double-doubles. In his last ten games, the senior has five double-doubles. His game has been elevated to another level now and Oregon will have a tough team keeping up with him.
Jonathan Gilling has made just two of his last 12 attempts from deep and that low percentage won't get it done against tougher opponents but his game has branched out in recent games which will help the defense honest. For ASU to win, every starter has to contribute and Evan Gordon needs to be more pro-active.
In his first ten games in a Sun Devil uniform, Jahii Carson did not disappoint but he wasn't perfect as averaged 4.3 turnovers per game which was frustrating but could be filed away under freshman mistakes and something that just came with the highlight-reel style of play. Turns out he was just getting warmed up and Carson needed time to shake off the rust. In the last six games, including three Pac-12 games, Carson has knocked down his turnovers to just 2.5 per game while handing out over 5.3 assists across the same span.
The bench - against Colorado, the Devils were stagnant and it looked like the Buffaloes would coast to an easy victory before Herb Sendek sent Bo Barnes into action where the Hawaii-transfer promptly nailed a three and scored his first career points for ASU. Barnes played four minutes and took just that one shot but he provided the spark that propelled the Sun Devils to the improbable victory.
Against Oregon State, Chris Colvin and Ruslan Pateev provided 10 rebounds off the bench in a tight game. This team is not deep and the starters play a lot of minutes so when the reserves have to step up, it can be a pivotal swing in the game. Oregon runs nine-deep and they don't let up so Colvin, Pateev, Barnes and Eric Jacobsen will have to match blows while the starters are getting a rest. I see the bench mob making an impact, especially Colvin, and that will ultimately prove to be the difference as the Sun Devils will catch Oregon in an Arizona-hangover.
Arizona State 68 Oregon 64