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Women's basketball goes on the road to face Utah and Colorado


February 08, 2012

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The Arizona State women's basketball team goes on the road for the second time in three weeks when it travels to Salt Lake City and Boulder, Colo., to take on the newest members of the Pac-12, Utah (Thursday at 7 p.m. MT) and Colorado (Saturday at 7 p.m. MT).

Thursday's game at Utah represents the beginning of an arduous four-week stretch for the Sun Devils (15-7, 6-5 Pac-12), who will play five of their final seven games of the regular season on the road. Following this week's games, the Sun Devils will return home for their final two home contests of the season against the Washington schools before closing out the Pac-12 schedule with trips in successive weeks to Los Angeles (at UCLA and at USC) and Tucson (at Arizona).

After winning five straight games to climb into to a tie for second place in the Pac-12 standings, the Sun Devils dropped home contests to No. 4 Stanford (62-49) and Cal (67-62) last week to slip into a three-way tie for fourth place with Oregon State (15-7, 6-5) and USC (12-10, 6-5).

Despite a gritty and determined effort, the Sun Devils saw their five-game winning streak come to an end against Stanford last Thursday. The Sun Devils went toe-to-toe with the fourth-ranked Cardinal for much of the game as they led by as many as eight in the first half, were tied at the half (28-28) and, following a 6-0 run, found themselves once again tied at 40-40 with 12:15 left in the game. Stanford would seize control of the game at that point, however, as it went on a 14-0 run over the next 5:25 to take a commanding 54-40 lead. ASU would get no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.

Against Cal, the Sun Devils shot 47.8 percent, their highest mark in a conference game this season. After trailing by seven points early in the second half, ASU would come back and eventually take a 47-43 lead with 10:49 left. However the Bears would come back to eventually tied the score and would not trail again after taking a 50-49 lead with 7:27 left.

The most telling statistic for the Sun Devils in last week's losses was rebounding as Stanford and Cal combined to outrebound ASU 90-51 in the two games. ASU's minus-28 deficit on the offensive glass (39-11) resulted in a combined 30 second chance points for Stanford and Cal..

Deja Mann and Kali Bennett both averaged 11.0 points to lead the Sun Devils last week. Bennett (9-16 FGs/.563) and Micaela Pickens (7-12 FGs/.583) both shot higher than 55 percent for the weekend.
Utah (10-12, 3-8 Pac-12) has gone 1-3 since it lost to the Sun Devils, 59-51, on Jan. 21 in Tempe. Two of those three losses were by only five points. The Utes are No. 2 in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, allowing only 55.4 points per game.

RADIO

Thursday's game at Utah can be heard live on The Fan AM 1060. Coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. Veteran broadcaster and the state of Arizona's 2010 Broadcaster of the Year Jeff Munn is in his eighth season as the voice of ASU women's basketball.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

• This will be the 11th ever meeting between the Utes and the Sun Devils. The Utes lead the all-time series 6-4. Prior to ASU's 59-51 win in Tempe last month, the last time the two teams got together was in the second round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament (Tucson, Ariz.) when the fifth-seeded Utes downed the fourth-seeded Sun Devils, 86-65.                                                                                   

• As of Feb. 5, ASU is ranked No.7 in the nation in blocked shots per game (6.1), No. 12 in FG pct. defense (.340) and No. 22 in scoring defense (53.0 ppg). Within the Pac-12, ASU leads the conference in all the aforementioned categories and is third in steals (10.2 spg) and assists (14.0 apg) and fourth in scoring margin (+6.8), 3-point FG defense (.284) and turnover margin (+1.5).

• ASU is shooting 79.8 percent (75-94) from the line in its last seven games, which is more than 13 percent higher than its percentage for the season (66.1). 

• Senior F Kimberly Brandon averaged 15.8 points (+4.6 above her season average), 7.8 rebounds and 3.0 steals while shooting 53.8 percent (+10.3 higher than season pct.) during ASU's recent five-game winning streak. She was 5-9 (.55.6) from 3-point range and 18-22 (81.8) from the free throw line during that stretch. Brandon was limited to only 17 minutes (injured ankle) in ASU's 67-62 loss to Cal last Saturday.

• Seven of senior F/C Kali Bennett's eight double-figure scoring efforts in 2011-12 have come in ASU's last nine games

• Bennett, who in ASU's win against Utah (Jan. 21) tied ASU's single-game record for most blocks (7), now owns the school's single-season record for blocked shots with 62 - old record was 55 by Kym Hampton set in 1980-81 season.

• With 7 blocks in last Saturday's game against Cal the Sun Devils broke the school's single-season record for blocked shots (134) set by the 2008-09 squad. ASU now has 135 blocks this season.

• Senior G Alex Earl is shooting 50 percent from 3-point range (7-14) in ASU's last four games. Earl tied her career highs in 3-point FGs (3) and rebounds (5) in ASU's win at Washington (Jan. 28).

• Junior G Deja Mann has scored in double figures four times in ASU's last five games while shooting 44.1 percent during that stretch (more than 10 pct. higher than season pct). Mann scored seven of her 12 points in the final 4:30 of ASU's 57-53 win at Washington (Jan. 28). She led the Sun Devils with 11 points in last Thursday's loss to No. 4 Stanford and added 11 more against Cal on Saturday.

• Freshman G Promise Amukamara, whose brother, Prince, is a member of the Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants, is shooting 56 percent (28-50 FGs) in ASU's last 15 games and has scored a career-best 12 points twice in that stretch. Nearly half (19 of 40) of Amukamara's rebounds this season have come on the offensive end.

• The Sun Devils have allowed 20 or fewer points in a half eight times this season. The nine points scored by Colorado (Jan. 19) were the fewest ever scored by the Buffaloes in a half and tied the second-fewest number of points ever allowed by ASU in a half.

• Six of ASU's opponents have shot below 30 percent this season while only three opponents (DePaul, California and UCLA) have shot higher than 40 percent.

• ASU has held 10 of its 22 opponents to 50 or fewer points. Since 2005-06, ASU is 56-1 when it has held the opposition to 50 or fewer points.

• The Sun Devils have given up 60 or more points only five times this season (DePaul - 73, USC - 60, UCLA - 64, Stanford - 62, California - 67).

• ASU's bench has outscored (23.1 ppg) the opposition's bench (12.9 ppg) in all but two games this season (vs. UTEP - Dec. 28 and at Oregon - Jan. 14).