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ASU Basketball: Sun Devils return home still undefeated

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Arizona State continues to excel in non-conference play.

Andrew Palla/House of Sparky

The Arizona State Sun Devils (5-0) are making a habit of winning early season Las Vegas tournaments and turning heads early in the season.

Dating back to the 2017-18 season, ASU has won 17 straight non-conference matchups. While this year’s team has won primarily with defense, the Sun Devils have shown that they want to be a team that makes a deep run in March.

ASU now returns home after winning the MGM Resorts Main Event tournament, which included a win over the then No. 15 ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs.

The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (3-4) come to Wells Fargo Arena with a less-than-impressive resumé. Head coach Derrin Hansen’s squad is still seeking their first NCAA tournament appearance after their move to Division I during the 2011-12 season.

Nebraska-Omaha hasn’t been afraid to schedule some strong non-conference opponents. Besides a trip to Tempe, they also play the Iowa State Cyclones and narrowly lost to Colorado at home earlier this season.

Wednesday’s contest against the Mavericks sets up well for ASU after wins against stronger opponents Mississippi State and Utah State. Nebraska-Omaha is not a very explosive offensive opponent and they don’t have the size ASU possesses.

The Sun Devils have been an impressive defensive team early in the season, holding their opponents to only 70.6 PPG through five games.

The defense was on full display in Vegas as senior Zylan Cheatham made his second highlight reel rejection of the season against the Bulldogs.

ASU’s challenge on Wednesday will be trying to contain the Mavericks’ senior guard Zach Jackson. The 6’5” Jackson is Nebraska-Omaha’s leading scorer averaging 21.8 PPG and shooting a very impressive 47 percent from three-point range.

Freshman guard Luguentz Dort will likely be guarding Jackson most of the game against Nebraska-Omaha.

Dort has impressed many for his early season play, including being named last week’s Pac-12 men’s basketball player of the week. He averaged 25 points and collected eight rebounds on his way to winning MVP honors of the Vegas tournament.

Sophomore guard Remy Martin continues to show signs of his freshman year success as the health of his ankle improves.

ASU’s prospects for the near future also remains strong with the eventual return of redshirt sophomore guard Rob Edwards. He’s been sidelined since the season opener with a back injury, and the team is unsure when he will return to game action.

The Sun Devils are currently on the outside looking in at the AP Top 25 men’s basketball poll. Arizona State received the most votes of any non-ranked team, including Mississippi State being selected at No. 25 in the poll despite losing to ASU last week in Vegas.