On Tuesday night in Tempe a new type of Arizona State Sun Devil men’s basketball team started their season. Cal-State Fullerton was in town to take on the Sun Devils who are no longer guard centric. The Devils are taller, longer, and more athletic.
How did it go?
Well, the Sun Devils won the game in double overtime 102-94, but struggled to do so against a team missing one of their best players. This team is still a work in progress.
Arizona State is going from “Guard U” to a bigger lineup that could be termed “Big Guard U”. Whatever it turns out to be, it’s going to take some time.
The concerns that came into head coach Bobby Hurley’s fourth season were still on display against the Titans.
Arizona State started out slow. It took the Sun Devils five minutes to finally score.
By the time halftime rolled around the Sun Devils held a three point lead at 34-31. The shooting on either the Sun Devils or the Titans was not very good. ASU was shooting 33% and Cal-State was shooting 44%.
The second half was a different basketball game.
One of the new faces on this Sun Devil game is freshman, Luguentz Dort. Dort decided to take over the game on Tuesday night. He scored 28 points to help the Sun Devils pull out the win. However, Dort only had two points at halftime. He scored 26 of his points in the second half and that included seven points in the big second overtime. If it wasn’t for Luguentz Dort, the Sun Devils would have lost their first game of the season.
Like any freshman, he was nervous before the game.
“It was my first college game but I talked with coach Hurley and the rest of the staff and they told me to calm down. I did and in the second half everything was good for me.” Dort said.
Even coach Bobby Hurley attributed the slow start to nerves on his squad. Due to the slow start, the Sun Devils missed their first nine shots.
One of the areas that helped keep the Sun Devils in the game was their domination on the boards. Arizona State held a 24-17 advantage on the glass in the first half. For the game the Sun Devils had a 58-42 lead on the boards.
The long, athletic front court players for Arizona State kept them in the game in the first half of play.
Kimani Lawrence made a couple of three-pointers, Zylan Cheatham and De’Quon Lake combined for 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The second half was all Luguentz Dort.
To put it into perspective, Luguentz Dort was involved in just about every offensive possession in the last few minutes of the game. Hurley was sticking with the hot player and that hot player was paying dividends for the Sun Devils.
Coach Hurley was impressed with how his big freshman guard played in the second half and down the stretch.
“Dort has such poise, presence, and maturity for a freshman.” Hurley said.
In the end, the Sun Devils showed some grit and determination to come back and win this game. The defense needs to be better, but the biggest thing that needs to happen is the young talent that Bobby Hurley has just needs to blend together. It may take a little bit of time, but the payoff for Arizona State down the line may be big.