ASU men’s basketball squeaks out ugly win in season opener vs. Tarleton State

Nov 7, 2022, 9:23 PM

(Sun Devil Athletics Photo)...

(Sun Devil Athletics Photo)

(Sun Devil Athletics Photo)

TEMPE — A win is a win no matter how many different ways you want to slice it.

But it wasn’t the prettiest of season-opening performances from the Arizona State men’s basketball team in a 62-59 victory over Tarleton State at Desert Financial Arena on Monday night.

If you’re a fan of fluent, high-scoring basketball with good offensive ball movement and shooting, this was not the game for you.

Instead, the flow of the contest was more stop-start, with the referees combining to call a total of 55 fouls, 29 of which came in the first half. Perhaps that added to both teams’ shooting woes, as neither team could capitalize from the free throw line, the floor or from 3-point range.

“Early in the game we missed some layups. We struggled early from the free throw line and set the tone for that,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said postgame. “For the guys we have that are capable of shooting the ball to be under 50% and some of those were the front end of one-and-ones, that hurt us.

“It was a choppy game, not a lot of flow to it with all the fouls out there. It wasn’t appealing to watch I would imagine. It wasn’t a pleasing game on the eye.”

Collectively, ASU shot an abysmal 48% from the charity stripe (14-for-29) while shooting 34% from the field and going 6-of-24 from deep for a 25% clip. Compare that to Tarleton State, who shot 35% from the floor, 59% from the free throw line and went 2-for-14 (14%) from 3.

Arizona State guard Frankie Collins, who transferred over from Michigan this offseason, led the offense with a career-high 21 points in his first game as a Sun Devil. The sophomore added four assists, three rebounds, three steals and one block while shooting 4 of 11 (36%) from deep.

Marcus Bagley was the No. 2 scoring option for Hurley, as he was the only other Sun Devil to reach double figures with 13 points. He also had four rebounds, two assists and one block while shooting 50% from three (2-for-4) in 30 minutes played.

“I felt like I was in foreign territory,” Bagley said jokingly after only playing in three total games last season. “It was fun out there, I’m just happy we got the win. Just got to keep being patient with myself knowing it’s a process out there. Just getting ready for Thursday (vs. NAU) now.”

Remarkably, Tarleton State’s tallest player is only listed at 6-foot-7, while ASU has several players who stand at 6-foot-9 or taller, including Alonzo Gaffney (6-foot-9), Duke Brennan (6-foot-10) and seven-footer Warren Washington. Yet it was 6-foot-6 Devan Cambridge who led the game with four blocks, a few of which were rejections that sent the ball into the stands. He was also the only player to reach double figures on the glass with a total of 10 rebounds.

However, Hurley and Co. did not take advantage of their size advantage and elected to stick with the perimeter game with the guards. In fact, Tarleton State led the game in paint points 32-28 despite ASU winning the rebound battle 54-39. Arizona State also lost the turnover battle 21-17, which resulted in the Texans outscoring the Sun Devils 22-11 on points off turnovers.

“You watch them last year. … You try to tell the players how hard they’re going to play and they’re not intimidated to come in here. They have a coach that has been in a lot of these big battles, so this is nothing different for them,” Hurley said.

“They outplayed us really. I think we were just fortunate to make plays down the stretch and close the game out.”

“We know the type of team we are and we didn’t play up to that level tonight,” Bagley said of what Hurley told the team postgame.

“So it was just kind of like we won but everybody in the back of their heads was like, ‘We got to play better.’ It was just an undertone like, we’re happy we got the victory but we have to play better at home on both sides of the ball.”


ASU hosts Northern Arizona on Thursday at 7 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7.

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