Princeton a good measuring stick for No. 17 Arizona State
No. 17 Arizona State and Princeton found themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum in recent games against the nation's elite.
Arizona State scored 14 of the final 16 points to knock off then-No. 1 Kansas 80-76 at Wells Fargo Arena last Saturday, the second year in a row the Sun Devils have taken down the Jayhawks, who were ranked No. 2 when they fell last December.
Princeton was doubled up when it visited No. 2 Duke on Dec. 18, 101-50.
The Arizona State-Princeton game Saturday will help determine how much those results apply.
Arizona (9-2) moved up only one spot in the AP Top 25 with its victory over Kansas because of a loss at Vanderbilt earlier in the week, but the Sun Devils have established themselves as the team to beat in the Pac-12 when league play begins next week.
"This was a huge moment for our basketball program," Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley told reporters after the Kansas game.
"We've got guys that in games like this we're not at a disadvantage from a talent standpoint. Even the freshmen aren't scared of the moment or intimidated by the moment. They can play at such a high level."
The Sun Devils are as complete as they have been all season with the return to health of guards Rob Edwards and Remy Martin, and both contributed heavily in the victory over the Jayhawks.
Edwards, who missed seven games because of a back injury, had 15 points against Kansas. His 3-pointer gave the Sun Devils a 76-74 lead with 2 1/2 minutes left, and his two free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining sealed the victory.
Martin, who missed two games and played at less than full strength in several others because of a high ankle sprain, had 10 points, including a tie-breaking jumper with 58 seconds remaining. He also caused a turnover in the final seconds.
"Those are the moments we live for," Martin told reporters.
"It proves a lot. It shows that we can potentially be the best team in the country. We've beaten great teams. We have the abilities. We have the players, the coaching staff, the people. Everything about ASU is now starting to feel like what it's supposed to be."
Edwards, who sat out last season after transferring from Cleveland State, had 14 points against Vanderbilt, and his presence gives the Sun Devils another perimeter shooter to pair with aggressive freshman guard Lugentz Dort, athletic forward Zylan Cheatham and wing shooter Kimani Lawrence.
Dort is averaging 19.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals a game, and Cheatham is averaging 12 points and 10.2 rebounds. Lawrence is averaging 12.5 points and Martin is averaging 11.4.
"Just high level players," Hurley said.
Arizona State is the only Pac-12 team among the 40 who received votes in the most recent AP poll.
Princeton (6-5) recovered from its loss at Duke with an 81-79 victory over Lafayette last Friday, when leading scorer senior guard Devin Cannady made two free throws with five seconds remaining.
The Tigers shot only 29.5 percent from the field against Duke and were out-rebounded 50-25 while giving up 62 points in the second half for the most lopsided loss in program history.
"The competition level rises against those Power Five teams," Cannady told the (Trenton, N.J.) Trentonian.
"It's going to be our first game after people have gone home for Christmas. I don't know how much they're going to eat or how much they're going to work out, but we need to be on top of our stuff because it can very easily turn into a 10-, 15-, 25-point lead against a team like that.
"Some teams are gifted, and they can turn 20-point leads into 51-point leads."
Cannady, who is on pace to finish second behind former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley in school career scoring, leads the Tigers in scoring at 20.1 and rebounding at 5.3. He has made 39 of the Tigers' 98 three-pointers.
Cannady had a double-double against Lafayette with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Senior forward Myles Stephens is averaging 13.9 points and 5.1 rebounds.
Prize freshman guard Jaelin Llewellyn is averaging 14.5 points and 5.0 assists in four games after missing the start of the season with a foot injury. Stanford, Virginia and Wake Forest were among the schools recruiting Llewellyn, a native of Canada who committed to Princeton before his senior year in high school.
Updated December 28, 2018