With the Trojans headed to Tempe for tonight’s game with the Arizona State Sun Devils, we thought it was a great opportunity to chat it up with the Sun Devils themselves. Here’s some Q&A about tonight’s game with Nikil Selvam of House of Sparky, SB Nation’s Arizona State headquarters.
Reign of Troy: The last time USC and ASU met, the Sun Devils won a relatively close game, but what’s changed with ASU since that game nearly two months ago?
Nikil Selvam(House of Sparky): The Sun Devils have lost their consistency at point guard. With Keala King now gone (he was suspended during the USC game, but was still on the team at the time), ASU has struggled to share the ball and be effectively with its possessions. These two aspects have been the biggest contributors to ASU’s struggles this season, and they’ve cost this team several wins.
Reign of Troy: ASU seems to have trouble scoring, just like SC. How’s their offensive game, and who should USC fans be watching for?
Nikil Selvam(House of Sparky): The offensive game is incredibly stagnant. ASU has had lots of trouble scoring in the first half of games (just take a look at last week’s eight-point first half output against Washington State), and though the team has been better in the second, it’s often a little too late. The guy to watch for is Trent Lockett: he’s ASU’s best player and handles a fair share of the ballhandling duties. If he can keep his turnovers down and dish to his teammates, the Sun Devils could find a way out of their routine first half slump.
Reign of Troy: Here in LA, we joke how terrible the Pac-12 has been this season, and that the Clippers have saved basketball season. For ASU, do you think the state of Pac-12 basketball has had any effect on ASU’s performance?
Nikil Selvam(House of Sparky): It’s definitely helped ASU mask its disappointing season. The Pac-12 doesn’t have any dominant teams this year, which means that there isn’t as much separation between top and bottom. I think that the mediocrity of the conference has lulled the Sun Devils to less-than-stellar effort at times. Perhaps even more importantly, though, locals and ASU fans don’t seem to be as troubled by the team’s poor play as I would’ve expected. It’s fair to chalk that up, at least somewhat, to the state of the conference.
Reign of Troy: How do you see the game playing out?
Nikil Selvam(House of Sparky): I see this game being tight from start to finish. Both teams will compete hard and the game should come down to who is more careful with the basketball. ASU has been terrible with turnovers all season. If they can keep those down, the Sun Devils have a good chance to snag the home win. If they commit over 15 turnovers (which they’ve been prone to do time and again), then the Trojans will have plenty of opportunities to hang around and sneak this one out. Right now, I think that ASU keeps its turnover mark down and wins a close one.
Reign of Troy: USC, ASU or Utah. Who ends up in the cellar?
Nikil Selvam(House of Sparky): It’s gotta be Utah. If the Sun Devils win this game, then USC and Utah will be locked into battle going into the final two games of the season (even though Utah has one more conference win than USC, the Trojans have the head-to-head). USC plays Washington and Washington State while Utah plays Oregon and Oregon State. The difference, though, is that the Trojans will be at home while the Utes will be on the road. I think that gives USC a better chance to clinch a victory and avoid the cellar.
A big thanks goes to Nikil and we wish him and ASU the best of luck tonight and the rest of the season.