When the college basketball rankings came out this week, the Arizona State Sun Devils came in at #3 with five first-place votes.
One of those votes came from CBS Sports basketball insider Jon Rothstein.
“Well let’s look at the fact right now that Arizona State’s marquee victories this year at Kansas and Xavier,” Rothstein said. “Both came away from Tempe, and the Xavier victory came on a neutral court and that was the signal that Arizona State had a chance to be a national story this year and obviously scoring 58 (second half) points in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, even if Kansas is not the team its going to be later in the season, it’s still a remarkable, remarkable feat. I think it’s important to point out that this team’s two victories right now supersede any other victory that any other team has this season.”
— Arizona State Sun Devils (@TheSunDevils) December 19, 2017
According to Rothstein, the Sun Devils have taken on the personality of their head coach when they take the floor.
“I think it’s the same thing that made Bobby Hurley such a great player at Duke,” Rothstein said. “That fire and that relentlessness to be obviously one of the top programs on the West Coast is permeating through his players.”
Rothstein credits guards Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice for leading the Sun Devils to new heights after playing previous seasons on middle of the pack teams in the Pac-12.
“They’re playing the best basketball of their career, and that triumvirate along with Remy Martin and his speed and that dynamic off the bench is obviously enough to warrant Arizona State to be such a potent offensive team,” Rothstein said.
I think the thing you have to look at too getting back to the wins over Xavier and Kansas, they didn’t throw in a half court shot at the buzzer and bank it in to death those teams. Arizona State averaged 98.5 points per game in victories over the Musketeers and the Jayhawks. It was not a victory, it was a decimation.”
Rothstein also identified transfer wing Mickey Mitchell as a “glue-guy” on the floor and that having forward Kimani Lawrence get healthy could make the Sun Devils even more dangerous.
The Sun Devils wrap up non-conference play with Longwood and Pacific this week. They kick off their Pac-12 schedule against rival Arizona in Tucson on December 30th….and Rothstein can’t wait.
“The one game nationally that everybody is talking about in college basketball when you look at the start of conference is Arizona-Arizona State.”