My man Rob Dauster laid out the case for Arizona State as a potential Top 25 team earlier this month, while stopping just short of actually assigning them one of the coveted preseason numbers. It’s a reasonable precaution – we’ve seen Herb Sendek do more with less and less with more and we’re all waiting to see what the punchline will be.
Looking at the team on paper, the case is strong. They have a lightning-quick, creative point guard in Jahii Carson, and a bulky, defensive-minded center in Jordan Bachynski. Around the inside-out duo is a collection of talent that can wreak havoc if harnessed properly.
One player who doesn’t get mentioned as often is freshman Shaquielle McKissic. He’s inarguably skilled, but he’s also raw. Evidence of how he’d play on hardwood was required in order to lend credence to his paper credentials.
Now Sun Devils fans have the evidence they covet. McKissic threw down 33 points in a scrimmage observed by 3,000 fans and media members, and his coach had good things to say about what he saw.
If McKissic delivers on his early promise, and Carson and Sendek can weld Arizona State’s individuals into a high-functioning team, That “Also Receiving Votes” spot may be just a pit stop on the way to a Top 25 ranking.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: