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ASU coach Bobby Hurley nearing panic after 2-2 start in Pac-12

Arizona State forward Zylan Cheatham (45) is fouled by Stanford guard Bryce Wills (2) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. Stanford won 85-71. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Since Week 8 of the college basketball season when Arizona State was ranked No. 17, the Pac-12 has not been represented in the AP Top 25 poll.

The Sun Devils have gone 2-3 since the Week 8 poll and sit tied for fifth place in the struggling conference.

“We had a very good nonconference with some key wins,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley told the Doug & Wolf show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “The Pac-12 across the board is down nationally. It is not viewed as a good league because of what the entire league did during the nonconference.”

Limping out with a 2-2 start to conference play has been concerning for the Sun Devils who, for the second season in a row, are in the thick of the NCAA Tournament bubble discussion. 

“We have to have a good record in the league play if we want to get to the postseason,” Hurley said. “If i was in the SEC or Big 12 right now – and I was 2-2 – I probably wouldn’t be panicking but that’s not the case with our league.”

The Sun Devils have dealt with unforeseen circumstances regarding senior forward Zylan Cheatham. Cheatham’s brother passed away the same day ASU played Princeton and after playing California on Wednesday, Cheatham had to fly for his brother’s burial on Saturday and then fly back to the Bay Area to rejoin his teammates later that night for the game against Stanford, an 85-71 loss.

“He’s going through a lot. He’s a great teammate and a great person overall to deal with what he’s going through and still want to get out there with his teammates,” Hurley said.

Since the passing, Cheatham has posted season highs in points twice with 17 against Utah and California. His teammates have not followed suit.

“I’m not really concerned about how they feel right now,” Hurley said. “We gotta do better, we gotta play better, we gotta play more together, we have to execute better, we have to defend better.

“We had another soul-searching day on Sunday morning, very early. We got back Saturday night after that game (against Stanford), we were back at it.”

ASU is scheduled to play Oregon State on Thursday at 8 p.m. and Oregon on Saturday at 7:30 p.m, both on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Oregon State is undefeated in conference play at 3-0 while Oregon has lost three of its last five and carries a 1-2 record in conference.

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