Nevada vs Arizona State Preview and Prediction
Nevada vs Arizona State Preview
Two unbeaten’s enter, one will remain. That’s what will happen when No. 6 Nevada and No. 20 Arizona State, meet in the final game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic triple-header at Staples Center on Friday, another among a strong list of early season showcases.
Nevada has won its first eight games for the second straight season, building on a sensational 2018 NCAA tournament run that took it to the Sweet 16 before an upset loss to Loyola Chicago.
“We’re just trying to continue to validate who we are as a basketball team,” said Nevada coach Eric Musselman, who spent two years as an assistant coach at Arizona State in 2012-14.
Nevada will play its fifth of six consecutive games away from home against Arizona State, finishing the stretch against Grand Canyon in Phoenix on Sunday. The Wolf Pack opened the run by winning the Las Vegas Invitational over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Without question this is our hardest stretch of the season,” Musselman said. “We are four games through and we’ll see how we come out of it. The identity is starting to shape in the direction that we want it to.”
Arizona State is 7-0 for the second time in two seasons. It was the last remaining unbeaten a year ago, when it opened 12-0 and reached No. 3 in the AP Top 25 before slipping in the Pac-12 season and losing in the NCAA first four. The Sun Devils entered the AP Top 25 this week.
Arizona State has remade itself this season after winning from the perimeter behind three-point shooters Tra Holder, Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice a year. All are gone, replaced by senior transfer Zylan Cheatham and highly regarded freshmen Luguentz Dort and Taeshon Cherry.
Cheatham, a 6-foot-8 forward who played three years at San Diego State, had the second triple-double in Arizona State history with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in an 83-71 victory over Texas Southern on Saturday. He is the reigning Pac-12 player of the week.
“You’re talking about unselfish statistics,” Hurley said. “His rebounding. His passing. When you have a triple-double, it is pretty special. I wanted everyone to know how excited we are for him that he is here.”
Cheatham missed a triple-double by one assist in the previous game while handling more of the offense in the absence to play-making guard Remy Martin, who has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain. He is considered probable for Reno.
The Sun Devils are averaging 46.0 rebounds a game, 13 more than their opponents, and have out-rebounded all but one. They also won a tournament in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving week, beating then-No. 17 Mississippi State in the MGM Main Event.
“Arizona State is really, really good,” Musselman said. “Their coach is an aggressive coach, and he does a great job of getting his teams to playing aggressive. They are long. They are athletic. They have scorers. It will be a big-time challenge for us for sure.”
LINE: -7.5 Nevada
I believe these two teams matchup well on paper–both are extremely talented and can dominate in the post–but it is the experience of the Wolfpack that will give them the edge in this game.
Nevada 91 Arizona State 82