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Obinna Oleka helps ASU basketball cruise past Kennesaw State

The Arizona State Sun Devils dominated Kennesaw State in a 91-53 victory Wednesday night.

ASU never trailed in its second game of the Legends Classic as four players put up double figure scoring nights.

“I think that’s what I’ve been feeling since day one with the group. We have numerous guys that have the potential to score in double figures and different options based on our opponent and how they’re guarding us,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said.

After beginning the season and the Hurley era with a tough loss to Sacramento State, the Sun Devils are back on track with two solid wins in the first non-tournament leg of the event.

Eric Jacobsen finished the night with 15 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Tra Holder and Willie Atwood were among the three other players to put up double figures on Wednesday.

But one of the most significant wins of the night for the Devils was the breakout game from forward Obinna Oleka.

Oleka starred against the Owls, putting up 19 points and making 7-of-9 field goal attempts. Just days ago, the junior transfer was struggling. In fact, he was scoreless in both of the Sun Devils’ first two games.

“I wanted to cry,” Oleka said. “I knew what I could do on the court but I just didn’t know why I wasn’t doing it at the time.”

Hurley understood Oleka’s frustrations.

“When you’re not playing well, you wonder if it’s going to turn for you,” Hurley said. “You could see he was struggling a little bit with his confidence, but he’s a gifted kid.”

Oleka admitted he was nervous and his confidence was failing for a while, but he added that Hurley’s encouragement played a big part in restoring that confidence after his first two games.

“My message to him (Oleka) was, ‘In two weeks, you’re not going to remember what happened this week so let’s put behind us what happened on Friday, what happened on Monday, and you’re too talented of a guy not to have a chance to be real productive.’ I’m glad that he will hopefully get some confidence out of this,” Hurley said.

Oleka said the game was just what he needed to get his confidence back.

“I’m just going to build off of this for the next game and then go from there,” Oleka said.

The next stop for the Sun Devils is Brooklyn, where the second leg of the Legends Classic resumes with a tournament at the Barclays Center on Monday.

“It’s a fun challenge. These are the games you want to be a part of. You want to go to Brooklyn and play in the Barclays Center and have NC State there,” Hurley said. “It’s an opportunity for us early in the season to play for a championship. We’re in the Legends Classic and we have to approach it that way. Obviously, there’s some really good opponents there and should be a good atmosphere. We’re excited about it.”

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