2009-10 Opponent Preview: Arizona State

As the 2009-10 season men’s basketball season approaches, BYUCougars.com continues to preview each of the Cougars’ opponents. Today’s preview—Arizona State.

Game Preview

BYU and Arizona State will play for the 49th time in the history of the series on Dec. 8 in Provo. The Cougars trail the series 26-22 overall but lead 20-4 at home—including four-straight wins in the Marriott Center. BYU won the last meeting at home 82-70 in 2001.

The Cougars won again in 2002 at Arizona State but dropped last season’s contest at University of Phoenix Stadium 76-75. BYU led most of the game and Charles Abouo tipped in a potential game winner at time expired. The shot was called good on the floor but overturned after a review. Jonathan Tavernari scored 24 points and Jimmer Fredette added 16 point in the loss.

Season Outlook

Head coach Herb Sendek is entering his fourth season at Arizona State where he is 54-45. He led the Sun Devils to the NIT in his second season and the NCAA Tournament last season. Arizona State was 25-10 overall and 11-7 in the Pac 10 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Syracuse.

Sendek will have the difficult task of replacing his top-two scorers from last season—James Harden (20.1 ppg) and Jeff Pendergraph (14.5 ppg)— both of whom were picked in the 2009 NBA Draft. Pendergraph also led the team in rebounding (8.2 per game) and blocks (30) while Harden was second in assists (148) and rebounding (5.6 per game). Rihards Kuksiks is the leading returning scorer (10.3 ppg) from the 2008-09 squad. He also hit a team-best 93 threes while shooting .443 from downtown. Other returning starters include Derek Glasser (8.8 ppg, 4.8 apg) and Ty Abbott (7.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg).

Player to Watch

Rihards Kuksiks, G/F, Jr., 6-6, 210

Kuksiks returns as the team’s leading scorer after a sophomore campaign in which he averaged 10.3 points, hit 93 threes and shot .443 from downtown. He also shot .442 from the field and .714 from the free throw line while averaging 3.8 boards and 1.6 assists. Kuksiks hails from Latvia and attended Florida Air Academy before his freshman year at Arizona State.

Other Key Players

Derek Glasser, G

http://thesundevils.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/mtt/abbott_ty00.html " target="_blank"> Ty Abbott, G

http://thesundevils.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/mtt/mcmillan_jamelle00.html " target="_blank"> Jamelle McMillan, G

Game Implications

BYU will be looking to avenge last season’s 76-75 loss at University of Phoenix Stadium. The game is also the first of two games against Pac 10 foes for the Cougars as they play at Arizona on Dec. 28.

Sun Devils at a Glance

Head Coach Herb Sendek
At Arizona State 4th year / 54-45
2008-09 Record 25-10 overall, 11-7 Pac 10
Home/Road/Neutral 12-3, 6-4, 7-3
Starters Ret/Lost 3/2
Lettermen Ret/Lost 7/4

2008-09 Team Stats

Points/Game 69.4
Points Allowed/Game 60.5
Field Goal % .480
Opponent FG % .411
Rebounds/Game 31.0
Assists/Game 15.5
Steals/Game 5.7
Blocks/Game 2.1

Returning Stat Leaders

Points/Game Rihards Kuksiks, 10.3
Rebounds/Game Ty Abbott, 4.0
Assists/Game Derek Glasser, 4.8
Steals Ty Abbott, 33
Blocks Ty Abbott, 16
Three-pointers Rihards Kuksiks, 93