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Five matchups to look out for in the ASU men's basketball 2021-22 season

From Baylor to UA, here are five key matchups to keep an eye on this season

21.10.08 MBB Practice-35.jpg

ASU freshman center Enoch Boakye dribbles two basketballs during practice at the Weatherup Center in Tempe on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.

After dealing with injuries and chemistry issues last season, resulting in an 11-14 record, the ASU men's basketball team is aiming to compete with the top schools in the Pac-12. 

With the team's season starting Nov. 9, here are five games on the schedule which stand out:

Baylor University: Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 24

As the defending NCAA Tournament champions, Baylor University's Bears will travel down to the Bahamas to take on the Sun Devils on Nov. 24. ASU will be joining the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament for the first time ever in its ten-year existence.

Under head coach Bobby Hurley, ASU has been at the top of their game at the top of their seasons, with an overall record of 18-3 in the month of November over the past four seasons. But in the all-time series between the Sun Devils and the Bears, the Bears have a 6-2 advantage, with the Sun Devils' last win recorded as far back as 1988.

"A big win for me was the Atlantis still hosting the Battle for the Atlantis in the Bahamas because the other option was South Dakota," Hurley said. "Nothing against South Dakota. Sorry."

Graduate student forward Kimani Lawrence echoed a similar sentiment to Hurley, expressing his excitement to play internationally. 

"For me, I'm really looking forward to going to play in the Bahamas," Lawrence said. "It's a big tournament and it gives us a chance to really make a name for ourselves and show what we've been working on all offseason. Not a specific game but that tournament, in general, is just something I'm looking forward to."

San Diego State University on Nov. 18

Right before ASU takes a November trip down to the Bahamas, they make a pitstop in San Diego to face off against San Diego State University for the second straight season. Last season, the Aztecs beat the Sun Devils in Tempe by a final score of 80-68, with ASU winning the previous four matchups dating back to 2008.

Even though ASU will be away from Tempe this time around, Hurley has led the Sun Devils to an 8-2 record in non-conference road games dating back to the 2015-16 season, the second-best winning percentage in that span. 

The Sun Devils will likely have star sophomore forward Marcus Bagley playing, who did not play in last year's tilt between the two teams due to injury.

"For me, I wasn't able to play in this game last year. San Diego State, they got us at home last year, so I'm looking to go in and get a win there,"  Bagley said.

UA games on Jan. 8 and Jan. 29

The battles of Arizona between ASU and UA will always be two of the most anticipated games every season.

Looking back at last season, the Sun Devils lost to the Wildcats in both matchups, losing 80-67 in Tucson and 84-82 in Tempe. ASU has lost 9 of its last 12 games against Arizona dating back to 2016, and they trail the series 13-31 since 2000.

Last season, the Wildcats finished with an overall record of 17-9 and a conference record of 11-9, but did not participate in the Pac-12 tournament nor the NCAA tournament due to a self-imposed ban.

After a tough season for ASU and the self-imposed ban for Arizona, these two teams should be hungry to win against one another. Bagley also said he is excited to play UA this season.

The teams will face each other on Jan. 8 in Tempe and Jan. 29 in Tucson.

Creighton University on Dec. 14

ASU's two non-conference games between SDSU and Creighton University are arguably the most noteworthy non-conference games. Creighton is coming off a Sweet Sixteen appearance where they lost to a powerhouse Gonzaga University team 83-65.

In the middle of December, the Sun Devils will travel to Nebraska to face Creighton for the first time since 2015, where they beat the Bluejays 79-77. In their two home matchups since then, ASU has lost to Creighton with final scores of 96-85 and 67-60.

If ASU plays to the level it expects this season, and Creighton keeps its foot on the gas from last season, expect this game to be one of the best non-conference games of the season.

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Austin ScottSports Reporter

Austin Scott is a sports reporter majoring in Sports Journalism, and has been writing sports stories for three years. He looks to continue writing impactful, engaging sports stories for years to come. In the future, Austin wants to use his outgoing personality to do play-by-play and live sports production or sports radio and podcasting.

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