Sun Devils look for first conference win this weekend
After opening conference play against some of the tougher teams the Pac-12 could throw at them, the Arizona State Sun Devils return home to Wells Fargo Arena in search of their first conference win.
ASU (10-6 overall, 0-3 Pac-12) opened conference play with a loss to rival Arizona and traveled to Los Angeles last weekend to face USC and UCLA, losing both of those contests as well.
“We are in a tough spot right now and it’s real early and that’s the positive,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug and Wolf. “We have played great competition our first three games — having Arizona at home and then having two tough road games that are at the top of the division right now. We have to get things straight right now and get back to playing the type of basketball that we want.”
ASU closed out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 10-3 record and quality wins over NC State, UC Santa Barbara, Texas A&M and UNLV, but has wobbled recently and will look to rebound from a 81-74 loss to UCLA on Saturday — a game that Hurley felt his team was in.
“We dug a hole for ourselves in that game and fought really hard. We had a three-point shot to go up by one there with about a minute left in the game and we just didn’t close it out,” Hurley said. “I felt like we played one of our better games in a while against UCLA and we put ourselves in a position to win the game. We faltered in the last two minutes with a couple of three-point shots that UCLA was able to hit. Again they are an elite team in the Pac-12 and they are home and they had a great crowd.
“I thought it was a great college basketball game. We just didn’t make enough plays to win it.”
Hurley added that he expects Savon Goodman to continue to make progress in getting back into a rhythm after missing a few games for an unspecified personal issue.
Goodman is the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 10.4 points per game while adding 7.0 rebounds per contest. Against UCLA, his third game since returning to the team, Goodman had four points in 19 minutes.
“Savon is feeling his way back into it and we are integrating him back into what we are doing,” Hurley said. “We have to step up and play a little better and we have to coach a little better.”
ASU hosts Washington State (9-6, 1-2) on Thursday followed up with a visit from early conference leaders Washington (11-4, 3-0) on Saturday.
Hurley said he likes the typical Thursday-Saturday conference games as it gives the Sun Devils time to decompress from the previous week’s game, rest guys who are banged up and a chance to get prepared for next contests.
“I like that set-up. I have coached in leagues where we had a Thursday-Friday-Saturday format,” Hurley said. “It does favor a team that does have depth on the roster and can play a number of guys. That would be the one advantage.
“We are obviously preparing for Washington State on Thursday but we have also incorporated some things that Washington will do on Saturday.”