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Offensive consistency key for ASU in regaining momentum in Pac-12 play

Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils yells from the sidelines in the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center on January 04, 2020 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Only one game into conference play and the Arizona State Sun Devils find themselves needing a solid week of work after a rough showing against in-state rival Arizona Wildcats.

With a less-than-100% Romello White and playing on the road in Tucson, ASU had no answer for No. 24 Arizona, falling 75-47 in another lopsided affair.

Saturday night marked their third loss in the last four games, with two of the three defeats coming by at least 28 points.

But those games are in the past, there’s nothing anyone on the roster can do to turn the losses into wins. You just have to head back to the grindstone and have a short-term memory.

“Try and just get it out of your system, that was what happened yesterday,” Hurley told the Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Tuesday. “We exhausted the film study and watching the entirety of the game and discussing all the things that went wrong over the course of the game that led us to the result.

“Once we did that, we just got to move on. It is one of 18 conference games and it just happened to be in one of the most difficult places in the league to really start conference play. I’m sure about 90% of the teams that go there have a similar result, maybe not the point differential and that was an issue for me.”

For the Sun Devils, having a healthy White is the one of the first steps in getting back into the win column.

Noticeably hobbled against the Wildcats, White failed to score a point in the outing, recording just five rebounds and a turnover in 24 minutes. Being unable to get a full week of practice, along with the inability to fully elevate, hampered White in a big way.

But a new week brings new hope to the big man.

“He looked good today in practice, he’s moving very well and we took the gloves off a little bit this week,” Hurley said. “We weren’t going to baby him and give him more days to rest, he agreed with me on that plan so he was moving very well today.”

The other big step in taking home the W? Consistency.

Unlike the two years prior, ASU has been unable to find its shooting stroke on a regular basis. In the team’s two blowout losses to Saint Mary’s and Arizona, the Sun Devils shot 14.3% or less from beyond the arc. That’s something that must change for the team to regain momentum from earlier in the season.

“I’ve always valued the 3-point line everywhere I coached,” Hurley said. “I would say last year was probably a step back from the prior two years in terms of 3-point shooting and using that as a weapon. This year, we’ve regressed a little more and there’s still a lot of season left.

“But I do think the composition of our lineup and what I’ve seen on the floor in the offseason and the fall, we should be shooting better and we should be a better 3-point shooting team than last year’s team and it just hasn’t happened yet.”

Adding to the downward scoring trend has been the team’s shooting from the charity stripe. Against the Wildcats, the Sun Devils made just eight of their 19 attempts (42.1%). Through 14 games, the team has combined to shoot 67.2%, 258th in the nation.

The Sun Devils may not have the high-scoring offensive attack they thought they might have at this point in the the season, but there are still 17 games left on the docket. The year is far from finished, leaving an opportunity for ASU to regain the confidence lost.

Ultimately, Hurley knows what the team needs to do to reach the offensive pinnacle he foresaw in the offseason. It’s on the players, however, to retake control of their season.

“I don’t have a crystal ball to forecast what we’re going to look like Thursday,” Hurley said when asked how he feels his team will come out against Oregon State. “We’ve got to be hungrier to play better, we’ve got to get more consistent. I heard Monty Williams discussing consistency and performance, that was his message on Sunday. This is a different level of basketball but we have to find a little more consistency with our offense and our shotmaking, and stop putting so much pressure on our defense because we can’t just score the basketball.

“Can we figure that out in a few days? I hope so. We’re going to practice hard and hopefully the guys internalized what we watching in the film session.”

FREE THROWS

Hurley on senior guard Rob Edwards’ shooting woes:

“We’ve been pretty supportive of Rob and he just hasn’t been connecting with his shot-making. I’m very surprised just because he’s had good practices, he looked really good, and preseason he had high hopes and it just hasn’t worked out to this point. There’s still a lot of season left but he’s got to play better.”


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