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Opponent Preview: Arizona State

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Previewing the Bulldogs’ first Power 5 matchup

NCAA Basketball: Cal St. Fullerton at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at 10:00 pm Central, the Mississippi State Bulldogs take on the Arizona State Sundevils in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Both teams come in with a 3-0 record and confidence from their first three contests. Neither team has played away from their home arena, or played against a Power 5 opponent. Both Mississippi State and Arizona State have played and beaten Long Beach State; ASU won 90-58 while MSU won 79-51 even with Mississippi State having one of their starters injured for the entire game.

Freshman Luguentz Dort comes in leading the Sundevils with 21.7 points per game. Dort is a 6’4” 215lb guard who seems to be able to do it all. Next in line is a 6’8” rebounding machine; redshirt senior, Zylan Cheatham. Averaging a double-double with 13.3 ppg and 10.0 rebounds per game. Kimani Lawrence is ASU’s best shooter at .429 from the 3 and 15.0 ppg. It will be Lamar Peters, Quinndary Weatherspoon, and Aric Holman’s job to stop these three from doing what they’re best at. I’m confident that each of these players can do it.

Arizona State’s biggest weaknesses so far are shooting from the free throw line and turning the ball over. ASU is shooting 68.2% from the line and averaging 15.3 turnovers per game. In turn, the Bulldogs biggest strengths are forcing turnovers and scoring in transition, averaging 12 steals per game and 22.3 points off turnovers. Arizona State could play more conservatively when passing to not let MSU get hot after a few turnovers. The Bulldogs capitalize on most of their turnovers and that’s where they start to take control of the game.

Mississippi State gives up a lot of points in the paint and Arizona State has a player that can attack the paint. ASU can shoot from the outside; MSU can get hot from the 3, but it’s in no way a strength. Mississippi State can’t get too far behind to where they have to force 3’s; this is how they will find their first loss. MSU has started the past two games slow, but that might change with Nick Weatherspoon playing again, if the Bulldogs can force a turnover to get a run going in their favor, this game will be over quickly.