The 3-0 Arizona St. Sun Devils travel to Las Vegas to take on the struggling UNLV Runnin' Rebels Tuesday night (10:05 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network). To get to know the Sun Devils better we reached out to SB Nation's Arizona State community House of Sparky to answer a few of our burning questions.
1. How have your thoughts changed on UNLV since they lost to UCSB and narrowly escaped Nebraska-Omaha?
Coming into this season, Sun Devil fans had the UNLV game in Las Vegas circled. It was thought that this would be the first chance for Arizona State to get a crucial non-conference win on the road to add to its tournament resume. The Rebels had won at least 25 games the past two season, consistently being a tournament team. However, with how much the team lost it seems to me that the Rebels are clearly not the same team that has made the last four NCAA tournaments. The perception has changed from a game that Arizona State could win to a game to a game Arizona State should win.
2. Arizona State is only three games into the season, but what have you learned about this team?
We have learned that this team is deeper than last year's squad. The Sun Devils have three freshman, Calean Robinson, Egor Koulechov and Chance Murry, who all contribute. Robinson runs the show when Jahii Carson is on the bench and Murry and Koulechov have shown poise early in the season. Last season, the Sun Devils were lucky to go seven-deep, this year it looks as if Arizona State will go at least nine-deep.
3. Who are some key players that Arizona State has on their roster?
Obviously, Jahii Carson makes everything go for the Sun Devils. He leads the team in points, assists and minutes. Carson has improved his outside shot and has become better on making his teammates better. Penn State transfer Jermaine Marshall has come in and made an immediate impact. Marshall missed some preseason practice because of illness and injury, however he is averaging 18 PPG this season and is shooting 45% from 3-point territory. Jordan Bachynski has been a dominant force inside for the Sun Devils. Bachynski has recorded three double-doubles this season and recently became Arizona State's All-Time leader in blocks.
4. What is the style of this Arizona State basketball team?
The Sun Devils like to run up-and-down the court. Arizona State averages 91.3 PPG and shoot over 50% from the field. Arizona State lives and dies by the 3-pointer. This team has jacked up 83, 3-point shots in three games, shooting at just under 45%. There will be some possessions where this team struggles to move the ball and secure a good shot, resulting in usually Carson taking a long three. On defense, Arizona State plays mostly man-to-man but every once in a while they will switch to a 2-3 zone.
5. Where do you think Arizona State has an edge over UNLV?
The biggest advantage that Arizona State has over most teams is the size of its center. Bachynski is listed at 7-2 and his game continues to improve. He has become a better rebounder and he is a force around the basket on defense. Roscoe Smith, who leads the Rebels in rebounding, is just 6-8 so look for Arizona State to exploit that size in the game. Also, as with most teams, the Sun Devils have the edge at point guard. Carson is one of the best point guards in the nation and from what I have seen from him in three games this year he has only improved this season.
6. What are your predictions of this game?
What I am most interested to see in this game is how the young players of Arizona State handle their first road game. They have played well against inferior competition and at home, but that doesn't necessarily translate to a road game. The Sun Devils have not been tested this season, beating three lower tier mid-majors. I expect this game to be close at halftime with the Sun Devils pulling away in the second half. Final: Arizona State 82, UNLV 68
More from Mountain West Connection:
- 25 best MWC non-conference basketball games
- UNLV basketball news
- Navy accepts bowl bid, will play Mountain West team
- 2013-14 MWC hoops on going coverage
- Joe Southwick practices first time since breaking ankle
- Week 3 college basketball rankings: New Mexico moves up in the latest polls
- PODCAST: Week 12 Mountain West football recap