Arizona State has not looked good at the start of the season. They got blown out by Mississippi State to start in Chicago and then barely squeaked by a very solid Texas Southern team. Texas Southern had a losing record last year, but they still made the tourney.
However, UMass-Lowell might be better than Texas Southern. They are coming off an 8-loss season, where they made it to the conference championship game. The River Hawks have already upset Georgia Tech this year and are now 3-0 on the season. They have a fantastic offense, allowing no team to score more than 75. Is this a trap game for Arizona State?
UMass-Lowell has four players that average 10 points per game this season. They are led by Ayinde Hakim, a former LaSalle transfer, who has scored 24 and 25 in his last two games. He’s currently shooting 50% from the field. Next is Karim Abdoul Coulibaly, who is averaging 13.7 points and dropping 16 versus Georgia Tech. Coulibaly is shooting 70% from the floor and leads the team in rebounds with 6.7. Cam Morris III is averaging 11.7 PPG and is also the team’s best three-point shooter. Finally, Brayden O’Connor averages 9.7 PPG but just scored 18 versus Georgia Tech.
This team is very good from top to bottom. Their major strength is stopping the three, which hurts an ASU team that wants to shoot from deep but has been extremely unsuccessful as of late. They also are a really good free-throw shooting team. The Sun Devils have shown an ability to keep teams off the line, so we will see if they can continue to do that. Miss State shot lights out versus the Sun Devils. Texas Southern did not. This is an incredible shooting team, so ASU could be in trouble if they allow guys like Hakim to get hot early.
Now, let’s take a look at KemPom’s. Usually, when ASU is facing a mid-major school, there is a major gap, but this time, that is not the case. ASU is ranked 91st in KenPom, while UMass-Lowell is ranked 121. That’s not a major gap in the rankings. UMass-Lowell has the edge in offense, while ASU has the edge in defense. That shows this game should be extremely close.
I think ASU pulls this out by a score of 72-67. I think this a very low-scoring game, but I think the River Hawks shooting keeps them in it for a while until Frankie Collins drains a couple of big shots at the end.
Stay Tuned for updates from Desert Financial Arena here in Tempe as the Sun Devils face UMass-Lowell.