GAME NOTES: The Arizona State Sun Devils will attempt to secure the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Conference Tournament when they face the Oregon State Beavers in a conference matchup at Gill Coliseum on Saturday.
Arizona State is currently tied for third place in the Pac-12 standings with Colorado at 10-7 in league play. The two squads split the season series and are both in action on Saturday, with the Buffaloes testing California. With a win in this contest and a Colorado loss, ASU would claim the No. 3 seed. Regardless of what seed they earn, the Sun Devils, who are 21-9 overall, need to get back into a rhythm, as they have gone 2-3 in their last five games.
Oregon State has had even more trouble during the stretch run. The Beavers' 74-69 loss to third-ranked Arizona on Wednesday was their sixth in the last eight games. They are now just 15-14 overall and 7-10 against the rest of the conference.
The Beavers gave the Sun Devils a scare when they met earlier this season, but Arizona State squeaked out an 86-82 win in overtime. The Sun Devils have won four straight and 10 of the last 11 against Oregon Sate, pulling ahead in the all-time series in the process (41-39).
Arizona State hung with the Ducks earlier this week, but eventually fell in an 85-78 final on the road. Jahii Carson netted a game-high 28 points and Jordan Bachynski (13 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks) was stellar down low, but the team could not overcome its shooting woes, as it hit just 38.3 percent from the field in the loss.
Carson (18.7 ppg, 4.4 apg) and Bachynski (11.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.3 bpg), along with Jermaine Marshall (15.7 ppg), have carried the load for Arizona State this season. Carson, who has already made it clear he will be entering the NBA Draft following the season, is second in the Pac-12 in scoring and among the top-10 in assists. Marshall is more of a pure scorer, netting 46.5 percent from the floor and 42.3 percent from 3-point range. Both of those marks would be career-highs for him. Meanwhile, Bachynski cleans up on the interior, as he leads the team in rebounds, and the country in blocked shots.
Oregon State did itself proud against the conference-leading Wildcats on Wednesday, but that contest didn't end in a win. Roberto Nelson finished tied for the game-high with 25 points to lead the way for the Beavers, who were outscored 21-12 off turnovers, a deficit that proved to be the difference.
Nelson (20.8 ppg, 3.7 apg) is the only player in the Pac-12 scoring more than Carson this season. The 6-foot-4 guard has 17 20-point efforts under his belt, including in the last two games. He is netting 44.2 percent of his shots from the floor, including 39.6 percent from 3-point distance. Devon Collier (13.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is connecting on a conference-best 60.6 percent from the floor in support. Angus Brandt (12.2 ppg) is another solid scoring option down low,. while Eric Moreland (7.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg) has had great success in crashing the boards.
The duel between Carson and Nelson should be fun to watch. Arizona State could really use a win to give itself some momentum entering the postseason, but the Beavers, who have been tough to handle at home, hope to serve up some disappointment to their guests.
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