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Herb Sendek, Sun Devils to begin tough part of schedule at UNLV


The Arizona State Sun Devils have played three games this season, and won them all very comfortably.

However, wins over UMBC, Miami of Ohio and Idaho State have not said anything about the team other than they are better than bad.

Tuesday night, though, Herb Sendek’s team will get a real test as it heads to Las Vegas for a battle with 2-1 UNLV.

“I think the number one thing for us is rebounding,” Sendek told Arizona Sports’ Bickley with Marotta Tuesday. “They are absolutely ferocious on the offensive glass, so we’re going to have to try to neutralize them on second shots.

“And then on our end of the bargain, we’re going to have to take care of the basketball.”

Led by center Jordan Bachynski, the Sun Devils have hammered their previous three opponents on the boards, but the Rebels present a different kind of challenge. They have two players — Roscoe Smith and Khem Birch — averaging more than 10 rebounds per game. Their size is not something ASU had had to deal with yet, so Sendek is interested to see how his team responds to the challenge.

He believes they’re up for it, though, and is confident his program is on the way up.

“I like our team,” he said. “I think we just put together one of our best — if not the best — recruiting class coming in next year with six guys.

“We’ve just got to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

And the next step is in Vegas, though there are games against some of the country’s better teams set for the next couple of weeks.

“It’s one game,” Sendek said. “I know that’s a cliche but that’s what it is. If we win, no one’s going to coronate us. If we’re not going to win, it’s not going to be our demise.

“It’s one game, and it’s early in the season. We’re going to have to play well on the road to win. I think our schedule is almost as good as anybody’s in the country this year, non-conference. Last year it wasn’t, two years previous to that it was very competitive, but I think our schedule coming up is going to be really, really challenging.”