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ASU, Bobby Hurley forced to ‘shift gears’ after Utah game postponement

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Arizona State Sun Devils were nearly finished with their practice on Sunday when they found out their upcoming game against Utah would not go on as planned.

Due to a positive coronavirus case within the Utes program, Tuesday’s Pac-12 matchup was postponed with the hope it can be rescheduled at a later time.

Throw in last Thursday’s canceled matchup against Incarnate Word, and the Sun Devils (4-3) have now had back-to-back games called off this month.

“It’s been a bit of a crazy week as it’s been throughout most of this year,” head coach Bobby Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Tuesday. “We had another good workout yesterday, and actually now the guys get in an extra additional day for Christmas break and then we’ll get back to work on the 26th.”

Now, ASU must wait until Dec. 31 to resume play against Washington State.

For Hurley and Co., the timing of the cancellation and postponement isn’t ideal.

Following a devastating loss to UTEP, the Sun Devils were looking forward to returning to the hardwood to get over their bad showing last Wednesday.

In the 76-63 defeat, the Sun Devils were outrebounded 46-26 and were outscored 43-22 in the second half. ASU connected on just one of its 18 3-point attempts (5.5%).

“It’s tough and the kids are kinda scratching their heads really,” Hurley said. “We didn’t perform well vs. UTEP and kinda got a bad taste in your mouth with that effort.

“You’re just thinking that based on the quality of practices, because you have the full attention of the group based on a poor loss, that we’d have an opportunity to redeem ourselves a little bit before the holiday but … you have to be prepared to shift and be adaptable to the changes that are going on.”

If there’s one sliver of silver lining with the latest postponement, it’s the fact that freshman forward Marcus Bagley gets a little more time to get back to 100% following a calf injury against California on Dec. 3.

The Sun Devils have been itching to get the forward back, Hurley said, but reiterated that the team will not put Bagley in harm’s way by rushing him back to the starting lineup.

“As far as Marcus goes, we’ve been mindful of his future and long-term he’s a first-round pick, whether it’s this year or if he wants to stay another year and play again at Arizona State,” Hurley said. “We would certainly respect his wishes with either of those scenarios.

“Just to be protective of him and make sure that first, initially, he was pain-free and got some confidence back. Then we had a week under his belt to practice to strengthen his calf to make sure he felt 100%. He was doing some pretty special things in practice.”

The return of Bagley would be huge for the Sun Devils as they enter the bulk of their conference play, as he’s averaging 13.0 points and a team-high 5.8 rebounds per game.


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