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Bobby Hurley, Sun Devils not losing focus after wins in Vegas

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley reacts to a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Stanford, Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

After five games, the start of the season has been oddly reminiscent of how it was a year ago.

Last year, the Sun Devils won their first 12 games, including a tournament win in Las Vegas. ASU is once again undefeated to start the year. Most recently, the Sun Devils defeated Mississippi State and Utah State in the MGM Resorts Main Event in Vegas.

Head coach Bobby Hurley chatted about the team’s performance in “sin city” on the Doug and Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

It was a fun event,” Hurley said. “A lot of contributions from a lot of different guys.”

In the first three home games and the two games in Vegas alike, freshman Luguentz Dort has been the key contibutor. Averaging 23.0 points per game thus far, Dort is among the nation’s leading scorers.

Against Mississippi State and Utah State, Dort combined for 50 points and was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Really impressed by ‘Lu’ and his composure,” Hurley said. “With all the athletes on the floor against Mississippi State, he fit right in.”

Additionally, Dort was named the National Player of the Week by Andy Katz for his big games in Vegas.

In spite of his youth, Dort has transitioned smoothly from the high school to collegiate level. Hurley attributes this to his coachability.

He’s a guy that just lives in the gym, puts the work in in addition to his physical talent,” Hurley said. “For freshmen, there’s usually some transition to the college game and just older players and the speed of the game: The transition was seamless for him.”

Now almost halfway through the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Sun Devils have overcome tough tests from quality opponents. But the level of competition just increases from here on out. Games against Kansas and Nevada — both of which are ranked in the AP Poll Top 5 — remain on the non-conference schedule.

Stricken with injuries, the Sun Devils have seen Remy Martin, Taeshon Cherry and Rob Edwards miss playing time. Hurley said the team needs to push through and replenish before the heat of the schedule.

We’ve been going through a lot of stuff with injuries,” Hurley said. “We’re just hoping to fight through that, and that’s our biggest concern right now — getting everyone healthy.”

Before ASU heads to Los Angeles to play a neutral-site game against Nevada, the Sun Devils host a couple of mid-majors: Nebraska-Omaha and Texas Southern.

A Summit League member, Nebraska-Omaha is 3-4 so far this season, but the Mavericks kept close with Colorado, losing by just four.

Texas Southern may have a losing record, but that could just be the result of a brutal schedule. Sitting at 2-4, Texas Southern has defeated Baylor and No. 18 Oregon while losing to Gonzaga, Iowa State, San Diego State and Evansville.

Hurley said the team won’t overlook its smaller opponents.

Nebraska-Omaha was tied with Colorado with two minutes left in the game at Colorado and are very capable,” Hurley said. “You saw the score with Texas Southern, so we have a big week. We have to get better this week as a team.”

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