BYU's basketball opponent Wednesday night has one major feature in common with the Cougars: a much-heralded recruiting class.
The NCAA Basketball Preview magazine this fall described Arizona State's crop of newcomers as "somewhere between fantastic and otherworldly." Other publications ranked Coach Bill Frieder's group of five freshmen and one junior college transfer between second- and sixth-best nationally.The novices have been good enough that Arizona State, despite losing three starters to graduation, is 4-1 this season. The Wildcats won their first three games, beating Kansas, which finished 30-5 last season, Southern Methodist and Northern Arizona.
Then they behaved like the young team they are, getting upset on their home floor by lowly Drake, a team expected to finish near the bottom of the Missouri Valley Conference.
That was 11 days ago, and one week ago, the Wildcats bounced back to defeat WAC power New Mexico, 59-54, in Tempe.
Wednesday night at 7:30 in the Marriott Center, the Wildcats put on their first road show of the season, probably featuring a lineup of freshmen Stevin Smith and Jamal Faulkner, JC transfer Lynn Collins, and seniors Isaac Austin and Tarence Wheeler. Sophomore Brian Camper and senior Emory Lewis have also started this season, as Frieder tries to find the best combination.
Austin leads the team in scoring (16.4 points per game) and rebounding (9.2 per game). He's something BYU is getting used to, a 6-foot-10, 250-pound center with at least 40 pounds on the Cougs' lanky center, Shawn Bradley. He's backed up by 6-10, 235-pounder Lewis.
The other four likely ASU starters also average double-figure scoring, with Wheeler next at 14.0, followed by Faulkner at 12.2 and Collins and Smith at 12.0 each.
Arizona State is not a big team, and its opponents are averaging more rebounds this season. Starting forwards Faulkner and Smith are 6-7 and 6-2, respectively, while guards Wheeler and Collins are 6-2 and 6-1.
The Wildcat roster also includes Matt Anderson from Mountain View High in Orem. The son of former BYU basketball player Harry Anderson, Matt Anderson led the Pac-10 in three-point accuracy (.513) in 1988-89, but when his percentage dropped last year to .383 his playing time also diminished. This season he is averaging 2.3 points per game.
The game will be televised live by KSL-TV (Channel 5).
The game will be televised live