It is supposed to be a struggle for freshmen playing point guard in the Pac-12.
The performances of Oregon’s Dominic Artis and Arizona State’s Jahii Carson would argue differently.
The two freshmen will be matched up tonight at Matthew Knight Arena as the Ducks (13-2, 2-0) and the Sun Devils (14-2, 3-0) attempt to carry on with their early success. Is there any doubt that Artis and Carson have been major factors in that success?
Artis is averaging 10.1 points and 3.6 assists for Oregon, playing an average of 27 minutes. Carson has more of a role for the Sun Devils, leading them in scoring at 16.9 points and averaging 5.3 assists while playing 36.1 minutes per game, the highest total in the Pac-12 and the third-highest total among the nation’s freshmen.
“We’re asking him to do a lot of different things and he’s off to a terrific start," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said.
Carson’s freshman season was delayed when the NCAA did not grant him immediate eligibility a year ago, but he was able to practice with the Sun Devils.
“Having him around last year definitely helped with the transition into this season," Sendek said.
Oregon coach Dana Altman is equally pleased with the progress of Artis.
“I’d like to see him be a little bit more energetic, but he’s done a great job, working in the team concept and doing the things I’m asking him to do," Altman said. “It’s not an easy job, and he’s done a really good job of trying to pick everything up."
Altman said that while “D.A. thinks I’m on him about everything, I’m really not. There’s a certain way you’ve got to play if you’re going to play the position.
“You set a tone ... for those other four guys. They’re following you. If you’re setting a good tone with your energy, the team generally follows."
Last new visitor: Arizona State will be the final Pac-12 team to play at Matthew Knight Arena for the first time when it takes the court for tonight’s 6 o’clock contest. The Sun Devils were Oregon’s last opponent at McArthur Court, handing the Ducks a 60-55 loss in the farewell game on Jan. 1, 2011. Two weeks later, Oregon opened its new facility.
ASU, along with Arizona, did not play at Matthew Knight Arena last season because the 18-game conference schedule for 12 teams means each misses two foes either at home or on the road. Oregon will not go to the desert this season to play either the Wildcats or the Sun Devils.
The Ducks will also play USC and UCLA only once this season, next week in Los Angeles. That odd bit of scheduling means Oregon will have completed its scheduled games against four Pac-12 teams before even playing once against six other conference teams.
Sun Devils swats: Arizona State opponents have attempted 985 shots this season and the Sun Devils have blocked 124 of them. That means ASU blocks one of every 7.9 shots taken by an opponent.
Jordan Bachynski, a 7-foot-2 junior, has 73 blocked shots, and his average of 4.6 entering the weekend ranked him third in the nation. The conference record for blocked shots is 115 by ASU’s Mario Bennett in the 1994-95 season.
“He’s always in the back of your head, that somebody is going to come get your shot," Oregon’s Johnathan Loyd said. “It seems like he’s moving a lot better and covering a lot more area than last year."