Arizona State Sun Devils men’s basketball team returned to Wells Fargo Arena on Tuesday night. They took care of business in their exhibition game against Arizona Christian University, 104-76.
However, head coach Bobby Hurley’s team did not look like last year’s team. The starting lineup consisted of freshman guard Luguentz Dort, redshirt junior guard Rob Edwards, sophomore forward Kimani Lawrence, redshirt sophomore forward Romello White and redshirt senior forward Zylan Cheatham. Sophomore guard Remy Martin, the expected starting point guard did not play on Tuesday.
Dort, Lawrence, Cheatham and freshman forward Taeshon Cherry grabbed the most attention ahead of the season opener.
Dort, the 6-foot-4 freshman showed part of what the Sun Devils will want from him this season. He scored 16 points on 6-of-13 from the field with five rebounds and two assists.
“Lou showed glimpses of what he’s capable of doing. Second half he had a great spurt,” Hurley said. “
Dort opened the game with two quick fouls to send him to the bench, with Martin sidelined, Hurley inserted Cheatham into the point guard role. He finished the night with 14 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
“Zylan he showed with his get out in the open floor and see what he can do, just his versatility. I thought he had some nice passes as well,” said Hurley before talking about pointing him at the point. “It was more of an emergency situation with Remy getting hurt. It did give us an opportunity to experiment with Zylan playing some point.”
Cheatham, the San Diego State transfer, finally got to play in a jersey and on the floor for the Sun Devils. He’ll be expected to have a large role once the season starts next Tuesday.
Lawrence, who missed a chunk of last season due to injury, hit the most threes on the night, going 3-of-6 from deep.
“It felt good, I was comfortable, I wasn’t as nervous. Big difference from last year,” said Lawrence before saying what needs to improve for the team that went 8-for-29 beyond the arch on Tuesday. “Need to be more dedicated to moving the ball. Get in the gym, get extra reps up. It was the first game in front of a crowd, so I’m sure some of the guys were nervous.”
Cherry lead all Sun Devils in scoring with 17 as he hit 7-of-10 shots on the night.
“Taeshon he showed what he’s capable of in terms of his offense, his ability to finish around the basket,” Hurley said. “He’s got good touch from distance. He’s a really good offensive player, he’s playing hard. He’s still working to get into shape, those weeks he lost he can’t get back. This is as good as he’s looked since prior to his injury.”
Junior forward Mickey Mitchell unexpectedly got 11 minutes on Tuesday. He’d been battling a back injury for the past 5 months, but started basketball activities over the past week.
“He’s come along quicker, his conditioning is getting better. He’s been injury free, that’s why we choose to give him some time on the floor,” Hurley said.
Hurley wasn’t very impressed with the Sun Devils defense on Tuesday.
“I thought we played in spurts today,” Hurley said. “In the second half, we have to have better awareness. It was mainly the way we guarded the three-point line I think was the major problem. We’ll work on that this week.”
Hurley does expect Martin to be ready for the season opener on November 6, next Tuesday against Cal State Fullerton at 6:00 p.m.