Seeking their first 5-0 start to a season since 1985-86, the Arizona State Sun Devils do their best to slow down 14th- ranked Creighton as the teams battle for the title in the 2012 Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday night.
The Sun Devils have been rolling along with four wins, all of which have come by double figures. The most recent triumph for the program came on Friday when it topped Arkansas in an 83-66 final, moving ASU to the title game in the championship round of this event.
The Bluejays are now 5-0 for the second straight year and the third time in the last six campaigns. In 2011-12, Creighton began with seven straight victories, which means the team would need to win tonight and also take out Boise State during the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge Series on Nov. 28 in order to match that effort. On Friday, the Jays took down the Wisconsin Badgers in an 84-74 final in order to remain perfect.
The Sun Devils lead the all-time series by a count of 4-2, but the squads have been estranged since 1974 when ASU captured a 77-64 home win. Not only are the Sun Devils trying to continue their hot start, but a victory here would also be the first in-season, neutral-site tournament title since the team captured the 1994 Maui Invitational.
Still fighting for acceptance as perhaps the top mid-major performer in the nation, Doug McDermott exploded for a game-high 30 points on Friday, shooting 9-of-10 at the free-throw line but only 1-of-5 behind the three-point line for the Jays in their double-digit win against Wisconsin. McDermott also offset his five turnovers, half the team's total, by clearing eight rebounds in the meeting. Off the bench Ethan Wragge supplied ample offensive support with 17 points in just 19 minutes, followed by Austin Chatman with 14 points. Dealing with foul trouble, Greg Echenique recorded only six points and eight boards before fouling out. McDermott's numbers have sagged a big in the early going compared to last season, his point production dipping to 19.4 ppg and his efforts on the glass going towards 7.6 rpg. Still showing great touch at the charity stripe (28-of-30), McDermott has made only 5-of-17 shots on the outside. Wragge (12.8 ppg) has been a phenomenal force coming off the bench in all five games with his 63.3 percent shooting from the field and a staggering 18-of-29 (.621) effort beyond the arc which has helped raise the team to 54.7 percent from the floor and 40.4 percent from long range.
Carrick Felix made good on all four of his three-point shots and was 8-of-10 from the floor overall for the Sun Devils as they took out the Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday. Jahii Carson chipped in with 19 points and Jordan Bachynski registered a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, adding four blocked shots for good measure as well. Matching Bachynski on the glass was Jonathan Gilling, although his point production was rather disappointing as he came away with six points on 2-of-9 shooting behind the three-point line, refusing to take a single shot from inside the arc. Bachynski has been a beast on the inside for the Sun Devils in the early going, not only averaging a double-double with 13.3 ppg and 10.8 rpg, but also coming up with a total of 26 blocked shots, making him one of the most active players in that category in the country right now. Carson handles a good portion of the scoring for ASU, his 18.8 ppg being buoyed by his 27-of-38 effort at the free-throw line. Felix (13.5 ppg) and Chris Colvin (10.8 ppg) are also pieces to the offensive puzzle for the Sun Devils.