Sun Devils host Golden Eagles in desert duel

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Updated: 11/25/2013 10:47 am

Tempe, AZ ( - Jahii Carson will try to lead the surging Arizona State Sun Devils to a win over a ranked foe, as Marquette enters the Wells Fargo Arena for a non-conference showdown on Monday night.

The Golden Eagles have spent their first four games at home and have a 3-1 mark to show for it. Most recently Marquette bounced back from its first loss, a 52-35 grinder against Ohio State, with a 58-53 win over New Hampshire. Marquette was a rather mediocre team on the road last year with five wins in 11 trips away from the Bradley Center.

Right now the Sun Devils look more like the team that should be sitting in the national rankings. Arizona State has won each of its first five games, including a 70-58 victory over Bradley in its last outing. Arizona State's tough early slate continues on Thursday against Creighton.

These teams met in back-to-back seasons over the 1981-82 and 1982-83 campaigns. The Golden Eagles won each of those contests by an average margin of victory of seven points. Monday will be the third all-time meeting.

It was another battle for Marquette on Thursday against New Hampshire. The Golden Eagles forced 20 turnovers limited the Wildcats to just 34 percent shooting from the field. Despite hitting only 32.7 percent of their own field goal attempts, the Golden Eagles were able to hang on thanks to a 21-11 advantage from the free-throw line.

It has been a constant struggle to find offense for the Golden Eagles, who are posting only 67.5 points per game, while shooting below 40 percent from the floor. Thankfully Buzz Williams' squad has carried over the defensive success that led to a deep run in last year's NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles are allowing only 58 points per game and have forced 62 turnovers on the campaign. Todd Mayo (13.5 ppg) and powerful reserve DaVante Gardner (12.5 ppg) are the only players scoring in double figures. Chris Otule (9.8 ppg) has made 13- of-15 field goal tries but generally doesn't have to create much offense for himself.

By the lofty standards they have set early on, the Sun Devils had a down game against Bradley on the offensive end. Arizona State did net 48.1 percent of its shots from the field, including 9-of-24 from beyond the arc, but it amounted to a season-low in points.

Normally the Sun Devils will flirt with scoring in the 90-point range as they are averaging 86 points per game on 48.7 percent shooting. The key has been the team's ability to share the ball, as the Sun Devils are seventh in the nation in assists (19.8 pg). Also helping the cause is the play of Carson, a scoring dynamo that is netting 23 points per game on 55.3 percent shooting from the field. Carson is also a willing passer, leading the team in assists. Jermaine Marshall (15.8 ppg) is a solid contributor in the backcourt as well. Up front the Sun Devils are anchored by Jordan Bachynski (14.0 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 4.4 bpg), who is a constant double-double threat and one of the best rim- protectors in the nation.

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