Arizona State Sun Devils (9-8 SU, 6-9-1 ATS, 12-4 O/U) vs. Arizona Wildcats (15-2 SU, 9-7-1 ATS, 8-8-1 O/U)
NCAAB: Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 9:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Arizona Wildcats -16.5. Total: 153
The Arizona Wildcats have won nine games in a row heading into a home date with the Arizona State Sun Devils at the McKale Memorial Center on Thursday night. Arizona most recently extended its winning streak by defeating Colorado last Saturday. The Sun Devils have dropped two of their last three contests after falling to Utah this past weekend.
The 82.0 points per game being posted by Arizona State is its best since the 1997-98 squad averaged 84.5. ASU ranks third in the Pac-12 in both scoring and free-throw shooting (75.6 percent). The Sun Devils are averaging just 11.0 turnovers per game (first in the league) and 9.8 three-pointers made, the latter mark good for second in the Pac-12. They have three scorers in the Pac-12’s top 10, led by Torian Graham (second at 18.1 ppg). Tra Holder is sixth in the conference at 16.7 ppg, just ahead of Shannon Evans II at 15.9 ppg.
Graham posted a career-high in each installment of a three-game stretch with 24 against Creighton, 26 against Central Arkansas, and then 30 off the bench at Stanford’s expense. In his past six outings, Graham is 51-of-96 (53.1 percent) from the field, 21-of-47 (44.7 percent) from three-point range, and is averaging 20.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. He is shooting 64-of-122 (52.4 percent) from the field in the eight games in which he has come off the bench.
Streak predicated on defense
Arizona allowed an opponent to reach the 70-point mark for the first time all season, but it still had more than enough to defeat Colorado 82-73 last weekend. During their current nine-game surge, the Wildcats have limited six opponents to 60 points or fewer. New Mexico mustered a mere 46 points, Stanford went for 52 in a 39-point loss, and Grand Canyon scored only 54.
In the recent win over the Buffaloes, freshman forward Lauri Markkanen scored 22 points while draining four of five attempts from the land of plenty. Kadeem Allen made all three of his long-range tries en route to a career-high 18 points. Dusan Ristic added 17 for Arizona, which led by 20 points early in the second half before Colorado eventually pulled to within five points. Markkanen, a 7-footer from Finland, is averaging 15.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest.
The Arizona State Sun Devils are:
- 2-6 ATS in their last eight road games
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games against teams with winning home records
- 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games against teams with winning records
The Arizona Wildcats are:
- 4-1-1 ATS in their last six overall
- 9-3 ATS in their last 12 home games against teams with winning road records
- 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games against teams with winning records
This may not be a good matchup for Arizona State. The Sun Devils are all about scoring, but they are facing the most capable defense in the Pac-12. Arizona State is 2-6 ATS in its last eight on the road, 2-5 ATS in its last seven on the road against opponents with winning home records, and 4-9 ATS in its last 13 against winning opponents. The Wildcats are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six overall, 9-3 ATS in their last 12 at home against opponents with winning road records, 4-1-1 ATS in their last six against winning opponents, 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings between the two teams, and 5-0 ATS in their last five at home against the Sun Devils. Look for those trends to continue.
Pick: Arizona Wildcats -16.5
Arizona State can score in bunches, but it does not do much in the way of defense. The team gave up, for example, 88 points to Utah, 81 to California, 96 to Creighton, 81 to New Mexico State, 97 to Purdue, and 115 to Kentucky. Arizona has scored at least 82 points in two of its last three contests. The over is 4-0 in the Sun Devils’ last four overall, 9-4 in their last 13 road games, 5-0 in their last five agains the Pac-12, and 4-1-1 in their last six against winning opponents. It is also 6-1 in the Wildcats’ last seven against the Pac-12 and 3-1-1 in their last five against winning opponents. Additionally, the over is 4-1-1 in the last six meetings between the two teams. Expect this one to go over the total.