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Arizona State Enters Daunting Three-Game Slate in Pac-12 Play

Arizona State's next three games will either make or break a team that spent the majority of the season fighting through tough games.

The Arizona State Sun Devils, after suffering a tough loss on Monday to San Francisco, were looking forward to an opportunity to bounce back at home against Florida A&M on Tuesday afternoon. 

However, the game was cancelled due to a power outage that would impact Desert Financial Arena, forcing the two sides to agree to part Tempe without a result. 

College basketball season, already a wacky stretch of phenomena as is, has undoubtedly been impacted by wild events such as COVID breakouts. 

You can add power outages to your bingo cards. 

The Sun Devils were hoping to use Tuesday's meeting with the Rattlers as a great way to rebound before an intimidating stretch of Pac-12 scheduling that will see Arizona State play three top-10 teams in a span of 13 days. 

Arizona State Enters Daunting Three-Game Slate

Dec. 30: Arizona State at No. 8 USC 

The USC Trojans have managed a 12-0 start to the season, and have climbed to No. 8 in the AP polls for their highest ranking in 30 years. The one knock on the Trojans? They haven't played any ranked opponents yet, although 12 consecutive victories is nothing to shake your head at. 

Forward Isaiah Mobley is averaging 15 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest, continually leading the Trojans in both categories with a near double-double each time he steps on the court. 

Fellow forward Chevez Goodwin holds similar attributes, averaging 13.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Goodwin leads the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage, sinking 64% of his shots. 

This matchup, like many others for Arizona State, could come down to three-point shooting. While the Sun Devils rank last in the Pac-12 shooting (28.8%), the Trojans trail only UCLA by converting 35.2% of shots from downtown. 

The Achilles heel for the Trojans? Free-throw shooting, as USC ranks last in the Pac-12 with a dismal 58.4% success rate from the stripe. 

Jan. 1: Arizona State at No. 5 UCLA

Heading into the season, the Bruins were the favorites to win the Pac-12 conference and possibly fight for the program's 12th NCAA basketball championship. 

After an 8-1 start with their sole loss coming against No. 1 Gonzaga, the Bruins have looked as strong as anticipated through the early stages of the year. 

However, recent COVID troubles have cancelled the Bruins' prior two games and forced the team to drop out of the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas. 

When healthy and at full strength, UCLA is one of the best teams in the nation. Four of five starters average at least 12 points per game, and are the Pac-12's top three-point shooting team after shooting 39%. 

The Sun Devils do find a bit of luck, as the Bruins will play Arizona on Dec. 30 before meeting with Arizona State two days later. Perhaps ASU's in-state rivals can do the Sun Devils a favor and drag the Bruins through a tough game before the two meet on New Year's Day. 

Jan. 8: No. 6 Arizona at Arizona State

Finally, a home game for ASU at Desert Financial Arena. Let's hope the power stays on for this one. 

The Wildcats travel to Tempe after losing two of their last three on the road against the Sun Devils. Arizona State will be hoping for similar magic with a home crowd behind them. 

Arizona won't make another victory easy, however. 

The Wildcats, with a strong win over No. 4 Michigan earlier this season, are 11-0 and playing perhaps the best basketball of anybody in the conference.

Guard Bennedict Mathurin averages 17.4 points per game, second in the Pac-12 behind Washington guard Terrell Brown Jr. (21.2).

On defense, center Christian Koloko is tied for fourth among all Division I players for blocks per game, rejecting opponents an average of 3.5 times per night. 

The Wildcats (91 points per game) lead the nation in scoring, a clear 10 points over the next team in the Pac-12 (UCLA at 81).