Bobby Hurley calls 10-1 Sun Devils his most complete team at ASU

Dec 14, 2022, 12:30 PM

The Arizona State Sun Devils, including DJ Horne #0, celebrate on the court after the team's 73-71 ...

The Arizona State Sun Devils, including DJ Horne #0, celebrate on the court after the team's 73-71 victory over the Creighton Bluejays during the Jack Jones Hoopfest basketball tournament at Michelob ULTRA Arena on December 12, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

In the words of Bobby Hurley, his 2017-18 squad could put up points with its dynamic “Guard U” identity. The head coach said his next team with Luguentz Dort and Zylan Cheatham on the floor was his best rebounding squad.

But all-in-all, Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Wednesday that his current 10-1 group is the most complete he’s had on both ends of the floor, and that defensive buy-in has shown up late in games.

“I think that’s where we’ve grown as a program, we’ve valued the defensive end of the floor more and it’s paying off,” Hurley said. “It’s given us a chance to win these games late because we have the length and the size and the ability to to get stops. I think we have a chance to consistently win basketball games this year.”

The Sun Devils are riding an eight-game winning streak after outlasting Creighton in Las Vegas on Monday, 73-71. ASU outscored the Blue Jays 17-8 to close out the game and took the lead on a Desmond Cambridge to Devan Cambridge alley-oop with just over three minutes remaining. ASU forced a deep contested three at the buzzer which missed off the side of the rim.

The 71 points were a season-high allowed by ASU, which ranks No. 29 in the country in points per game allowed at 60.8. No opponents reached 70 points before Monday.

To compare, the fewest points per game a Hurley-led ASU squad had allowed in a season before this year was 67.2 in 2021-22.

Hurley believes ASU is equipped to grind out tough games late and get key stops due to the team’s training. He said it is in elite shape.

“Our workouts since the summer had been highly competitive … if you don’t come into the gym with the right approach and the right mindset, there’s a chance you could be embarrassed because of just how hard we’ve been competing,” Hurley said.

“We’re a deep team, so we could put fresh bodies on the court and I think it’s paid dividends late in games for us. We’ve been able to wear down our opponent to a degree and we’ve been very successful at finishing close games.”

ASU has won five of its 10 victories this year by fewer than 10 points, including a game in Colorado in which the Sun Devils trailed by 15 at halftime and pulled out a 60-59 win.

They’ve displayed a tenacity in tight games that had led this team — one with four of five starters as offseason transfers who have come together — to the precipice of the Associated Press Top 25 with two nonconference games remaining. ASU is third in votes among teams on the outside looking in with 39, just behind Memphis and Charleston.

Four starters, not counting Marcus Bagley, who has appeared in two games, average double digit points led by sophomore DJ Horne’s 12.8.

Hurley said he’s felt good about what the team has accomplished to this point in building a strong resume and generating buzz.

“Just as I go about my normal life, people are coming up and saying, ‘Wow, you guys are fun to watch. Man, you guys have a lot of heart. You guys play really hard,'” Hurley said. “So I think that people are seeing that and I think they’re gonna get behind it.”

ASU takes on San Diego on Sunday and San Francisco the following Wednesday ahead of its first crack at No. 9 Arizona this season on Dec. 31.

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