ASU basketball gearing up for quick turnaround vs. fast, physical TCU

Mar 17, 2023, 8:15 AM
Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils speaks to his team during a timeout against...
Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils speaks to his team during a timeout against the Nevada Wolf Pack during the first half in the First Four game of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at University of Dayton Arena on March 15, 2023 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Arizona State basketball coach Bobby Hurley finally had a chance to rest a bit after watching TCU games on the three-hour flight from Dayton to Denver early Thursday morning.

ASU played — as Hurley put it — close to as good of a game on both ends as it has all season in a 98-73 win over Nevada in the First Four on Wednesday night and landed around 4 a.m. for its Round of 64 matchup.

The No. 11 seed Sun Devils have not come across their opponents in No. 6 seed TCU this season, so learning the Horned Frogs’ identity is atop of the list for Hurley and ASU.

“You’re trying to dial in on a few things that you think you can identify that the team is trying to do offensively,” Hurley said.

“You’re certainly looking at what is their identity, what do they do well, what do we need to avoid doing poorly, and when you look at TCU, what jumps out at you is how they create turnovers, their activity, how physical they are on defense, very athletic.”

TCU is very different in play style from Nevada, a team with a slower tempo.

The Horned Frogs led the nation in fastbreak scoring this season at 17.9 points per game. They force a lot of turnovers (15.1 per game) and push.

TCU is not a prolific outside shooting team at 30.6% from deep, but ASU is expecting a physical matchup.

“I played high school basketball with Damion Baugh, so I’m familiar with him,” Devan Cambridge said. “(Emanuel) Miller, he was in the SEC with me at Texas A&M. … They’re a good team, so I’ve been watching them all year.

“They’re physical and they’re going to try to bully us and things like that. They play a fast pace.”

Junior guard Mike Miles Jr. is TCU’s lead scorer at 17.3 points per game. Baugh (12.6 PPG) and Miller (12.4 PPG) are second and third, respectively.

Miller is the team’s most efficient 3-point shooter at 40.1% and lead rebounder with 6.6 per game.

“They’re a good team, very athletic, can shoot,” Miles Jr. said of ASU. “Our job is to not let them get comfortable shooting the ball. They got hot last night, so against us we want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

ASU jumped out ahead of Nevada 51-22 in the first half. It finished shooting 63.6% from the floor, and five Sun Devils scored at least 12 points.

Cambridge said everyone is locked in but will have to continue paying attention to details like boxing out and communicating.

“I told them that, draw any positives you can out of last night, any confidence building that you want to bring to the table, but it’s over and we have to move on,” Hurley said.

“We have a new task in front of us and a big challenge ahead of us. … We haven’t had a break. There’s another one in front of us tomorrow night.”

ASU has spent a lot of time on the road, as its last three regular-season games were on the road, followed by three Pac-12 Tournament games in Las Vegas and a trip to Dayton for the First Four.

Desmond Cambridge Jr. said on Wednesday that having one day off in between games is huge compared to what the team experienced in the conference tournament.

Arizona State is looking to win its first Round of 64 contest under Hurley after falling to Buffalo in 2019.

The Horned Frogs fell in the second round of the Big Dance last season to No. 1 seeded Arizona, 85-80 in overtime.

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ASU basketball gearing up for quick turnaround vs. fast, physical TCU