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Cajun Butter: Six-Straight Games at The Bank Starts Tonight
By Peter Bouloukos, DieHardDevil.com
December 7, 2019 4:15 PM

Making trips to TCU, Wyoming, and the MGM Resorts Main Event in Las Vegas during the 2019 non-conference schedule, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns sit at 5-3.  They lost to TCU 98-65, Wyoming 69-61, and UC-Irvine 92-67.

The Cajuns have defeated a gritty Youngstown State team, but the four other victories were against teams that can’t score the ball nor play a lick of defense. 

Arizona State can score.  Arizona State is winning with aggressive defensive pressure.  Arizona State will defeat the Ragin’ Cajuns. Arizona State should play both man and zone defense to do so to work the process.

 

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Without Taeshon Cherry and Romello White, ASU lost to Colorado in Shanghai, China (81-71). The eye-test revealed the Sun Devils were athletically better than the Buffaloes. Look for Arizona State to defeat Colorado twice in official Pac-12 Conference play starting next month.

Arizona State lost a close game to a long, tall Virginia team by 3-points (48-45).  It was a game where they could have and should have won despite the immense wing-span of Virginia’s “D.”  We’ll chalk up that loss to a few poor choices and lack of offensive structure. The under-sized Sun Devils held Virginia to 36-percent shooting in a stirring defensive effort against last year’s National Champs. 

The Sun Devils get Louisiana to start a six-game home stretch at The Bank tonight.  Arizona State has two other lay-up games in Prairie View A&M (3-5) next Tuesday and Texas Southern (2-6) on December 28th.  But, in between, ASU runs a certain gauntlet facing a daunting three-game stretch. It begins with Georgia Saturday, December 14th.  

 

  1. The Georgia Bulldogs (6-2) are averaging 86.1 point-per-game.  Under Coach Tom Crean they have the 33rd most efficient offense in the country.  December 14th.
  2. St. Mary’s Gaels (8-1) are shooting lights out (50.7%) averaging 76.9 while holding the opposition to 61.6 points-per-game.  December 18th.
  3. The Creighton Bluejays (6-2) possess a 107.3 Offensive Efficiency Rating and a disciplined approach to methodically picking apart opposing defenses.  December 21st.

 

After Texas Southern, Arizona State heads to Tucson to play a tenacious Arizona Wildcat squad. UTucson features the second most efficient offense in the NCAA and a starting-five that could all see PT in the NBA someday (January 4, 2020). 

Remy Martin is the only Sun Devil that could get meaningful minutes down South, our starting five runs 8 to 15 players otherwise. This does not mean the Sun Devils can’t defeat Arizona. A ton of things have to happen in Tempe over the next six games to prepare for what will no doubt be an epic Territorial Cup challenge on January 4th at The McKale Center.     

 

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UTucson is averaging 87.1-points per contest and on the other side of the ball can shut teams down, only allowing 64.8.  That’s a 22.3-point per game differential by Sean Miller’s team. Arizona can dominate both inside and out with a deep bench.   

Essentially, Coach Bobby Hurley has Louisiana and Prairie View to figure out his rotation and who will play key minutes off the pine.  ASU can go 11-deep this season in spots for critical minutes.

Arizona State can’t afford a lapse in effort in the month of December. These games will be huge come Sunday, March 15th, 2020 (Selection Sunday).  The Sun Devils don’t need another “play-in” March Madness game.  

The Pac-12 Men’s Basketball schedule is a minefield. ASU’s first three games in January are Arizona, Oregon, and Oregon State.  All are almost assured to end up in a Post Season Tournament.

 

Nuts & Bolts of Saturday Night’s game in Tempe

First and foremost, Alonzo Verge Jr. should finally be able to finish strong at the hoop against Louisiana.  The Cajun interior is weak. Verge is 11-34 from inside the arc, and 0-11 from beyond.

Mechanically Verge has a hitch-in-his-getty-up. Most of his 23 missed 2-point attempts were at the rim.  He just doesn’t have the strength to get above the hole and drifts away from it at the point-of-attack. Alonzo has only 8 free-throw attempts in 89-minutes of playing-time which clearly shows he is soft around the rim.

 

 

 

Next, Jaelen House is fleet-of-foot just like his father, and it is a pure joy to see for any long-time Sun Devil fanatic. Like Verge, Jaelen is struggling to score. In this day and age, even seven-foot centers have to fill-it-up from all over the floor if they want meaningful playing time. 

House’s outside release is slow and the trajectory is off.  With only two-easy games left this season, Jaelen will be a defensive asset and distributor as a pass-first point guard.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. One summer with weights and a shooting coach will no doubt be amazing for him.      

In 170-minutes House is 16-51 from the field (31%) and collectively has a 36-percent Field Goal Efficiency Rating. What is happening the other 64-percent of the time can ultimately cost ASU some very close games beginning with Georgia next week.  

The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns are undisciplined and undersized.  Senior Forward (6’7” 205lb.) Jalen Johnson is averaging 17.8 points and 6.9 boards per game.  Junior Guard (6’2” 190lb.) Cedric Russell has been hot and cold yet fires 3’s at a 45-percent clip. 

Sophomore Forward (6’6” 215lb.) Kobe Julien, Sophomore (5’9” 170-pound) Trajan Wesley, and Senior Guard (6’1” 170lb.) P.J. Hardy can contribute but should be zero-match for Arizona State’s Guards or Forwards. Hardy is losing minutes due to his ineffective play.

Junior Dou Gueye (6’9” 220lb.) should make a statement inside but could very well foul out by the 10-minute mark of the second half if Arizona State consistently attacks the rim.  Dou’s primary offensive move is the dunk.

If Arizona State wants a big victory they have to work the ball around. One-on-one this game goes to Rob Edwards, Remy Martin, Romello White, and Jalen Graham all-day-long. Due to the undisciplined nature of the Ragin’ Cajuns, as well as what lies ahead for the Sun Devils, Bobby Hurley is better served by moving the ball around. 

I fully expect Alonzo Verge Jr. and Jalen House to have career scoring marks on Saturday Night, and they should get the rock to work out the kinks. The ball needs to start-off inside to White and Graham to fundamentally break Louisiana apart.

Graham’s (JG24) interior moves and touch are excellent and only going to get better.  Jalen is 17-23 from the floor with 12 blocked shots thus far and those are not all dunks.

 

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