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Could ASU’s Abbott be the Pac-10’s best defender?

There are no great defenses in the Pac-10. Don’t let the slow play fool you. It’s a conference full of decidedly average defenses.

And Arizona State? The Sun Devils have the worst defense of them all.

Yes, they only allow 63.7 points per game, the league’s lowest. But they also play slower than any other team (63.8 possessions a game), and their adjusted defensive efficiency numbers show as much. They allow .987 points per possession (slightly better than the D-I average) and are even worse in conference play, allowing 1.11 points per possession.

So here’s the question: Can ASU have the league’s best defender despite having the worst team defense? Ty Abbott’s teammates think so.

“We call him Ty Robot. He just keeps going. He has one gear and then when he kicks it up to the next gear, he’s a force,” Jamelle McMillan told the Arizona Republic.

The 6-3 guard usually plays on the perimeter of the team’s matchup zone, but makes some impressive plays. Especially when it comes to his 17 blocks. He’s swatted six 3-point attempts and two dunks, both of which are a mix of hustle plays and athleticism.

Abbott relishes it.

“You get the challenge of trying to guard the best player and things get chippy and you start talking,” Abbott told the paper. “He’ll hit a shot and then you want to come down and hit a shot and then you want to come back down and stop him. I like that little contest, the little one-on-one type deal.”

So, back to the question. Could he be the Pac-10’s best defender? Or is merely one of the best?

He makes the paper’s list of 10 elite defenders in the league, but I would place Washington’s Justin Holiday, UCLA’s Malcolm Lee and USC’s Marcus Simmons ahead of him. Holiday and Simmons are bigger, while Lee’s performed well in man-to-man matchups against scorers like Jimmer Fredette and Allen Crabbe.

Sorry, Ty. Love the hustle, but you’ll have to settle for being just behind the other guys.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.