Trojan basketball is ready to take win streak to Tempe

The No. 23 ranked Trojans are back on the road for a brief two-game stint against the Arizona State Sun Devils on Friday and the No. 17 Arizona Wildcats on Sunday.

Head coach Andy Enfield emphasized a balanced offensive attack and the importance of bench depth.

“Some of the players that aren’t playing a lot or don’t have that many minutes or don’t play at all are good basketball players. It’s just that the first seven or eight are really good right now; they’re playing at a high level,” Enfield said. “It is nice to have depth off the bench … It doesn’t matter who we have on the court; we can score at every position.”

As it stands, the Men of Troy have six players averaging in double figures, with five players averaging 12.2 points or more after a total of six players scored nine or more against the Bruins.

The Men of Troy have been shooting the ball with precision from beyond the arc this season, ranking 27th best in the nation, completing 38.8 percent of their shots from downtown including 40 percent against UCLA.

Arizona State (13-11) is quite familiar with the three ball as well, completing 190 of their 564 shots this season, ranking first in the Pac-12 in 3-point attempts and third-worst in 3-point percentage.

Their biggest long-ball shooter is sophomore Tra Holder, who makes 40 percent of his 3-point attempts and averages 15.5 points per game.

Overall, however, the Sun Devils have experienced adversity this season losing against Sacramento State, Cal and Stanford, while ranking in the bottom four in the Pac-12 in scoring margin, overall field-goal percentage and assists.

Arizona State’s biggest wins on the year have been against Texas A&M, Oregon State and Belmont, teams with a combined 50-22 record.

Freshman forward Bennie Boatwright commented on the strength of this Sun Devils squad and how well USC has been doing as of late.

“They’re very physical, and they shoot a lot of threes, so we have to close out on them and try to deter them a bit. Coach emphasizes defense, defense, defense,” Boatwright said. “Everybody’s been stepping up because we have a lot of weapons.”

Earlier in the season, the Trojans beat the Sun Devils at home, defeating ASU 75-65 in a true team effort that saw eight Trojans score 5 or more points including Julian Jacobs and Bennie Boatwright combining for 29.

In the game, USC went 7-for-16 from beyond the arc and 27-for-55 from the field while limiting Arizona State to just 7-for-25 and 26-for-68, respectively.

With a 7-3 conference record, the Trojans have an opportunity to gain a half a game on Oregon’s Pac-12 lead. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils hold the second-worst conference record in the league, holding a 3-8 record.

Boatwright said the Men of Troy have a renewed confidence and focus in practice.

“Our confidence is really high; we’ve been focussing on the game plan each and every day … We expect to go out there and play hard. That’s what we do. We’re not really focussed on the rankings right now; we’re just focused on getting better,” Boatwright said.

The 18-5 Trojans are set to take on the 13-11 Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe at 5 p.m. Friday.