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ASU Basketball: Dort takes over, Sun Devils scrape by CSF in Double OT

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ASU takes the season opener.

Andrew Palla/House of Sparky

There has been a lot of talk about Bobby Hurley’s squad coming into this season. A main topic of conversation was the arrival of Ontario four-star guard Luguentz Dort. Tuesday marked the beginning of Dort’s Sun Devil career, and fans at Wells Fargo Arena weren’t disappointed with the debut.

Everyone got their money’s worth on college basketball’s opening night, the Sun Devils found themselves locked in a 89-89 tie heading into double overtime with Cal State Fullerton. It appeared that Dort did not want his collegiate career to start with a loss because in the final five minutes, he controlled the game.

Dort led the Sun Devils with 28 points, seven of them coming in double overtime. Three of those points came off a put back and-one from a missed jump shot from sophomore guard Remy Martin. Dort’s three-point play was part of a 10-0 run to start double overtime to put Arizona State (1-0) over the Cal State Fullerton (0-1) 102-94.

“I just went out there and played my game. They gave us a good game,” Dort said. He then continued about how the first game under his belt will help him. “I’m going to have more confidence scoring the ball and helping my teammates scoring too.”

Hurley had a wealth of praise for his freshman

“He’s got such a poise, presence, mature for a freshman. He’s very gifted. In a ball-screen he’s very hard to deal with when he gets downhill and gets to that backline. He can really elevate and finish — he obviously put out a strong first impression here.”

Dort’s 28 points is a school record for a freshman making his first appearance in a game in school history. However, he left a handful of points on the floor as he went 7-for-13 from the free throw line. He missed a pair in the first overtime with his team down 89-85, but fortunately for Dort and the Sun Devils, sophomore forward Kimani Lawrence got the board.

Lawrence went back up with the ball before he got fouled. He made both of his shots from the stripe to pull within two. A layup a little late from sophomore forward Romello White tied it at 89, eventually sending it to double overtime.

“We practice that this week, for real,” Lawrence said. “It’s a little play we got to get the offensive board, we draw it up every time when we’re shooting free throws. It worked every time in practice, I had confidence it was going to work in a game.”

With 16 points, Lawrence had the second most points of the team in the win behind Dort. He shot 3-of-6 from beyond the arch and 5-of-6 from the free throw line, but that shouldn’t be a shock after Hurley said “he won the offseason.” Lawrence had an open look at the end of the first overtime at the buzzer, but didn’t hit it. Although, he had full confidence in his shot.

“It felt really good. I say this a lot but I work on and focus on my shot a lot this offseason. Every shot I took in the game I felt like it was going in,” said Lawrence before talking about the shot as the buzzer. “I swore it was good. I gave a little pose at the end and everything.”

The Titans’ set of senior guards; Kyle Allman Jr. and Khalil Ahmad gave the Sun Devils all they could handle, Allman Jr. had 33 points, Ahmad with 31. Hurley grouched after ASU’s exhibition against Arizona Christian that the Sun Devil defense needed to be better. With the expectation that he’d continue to complain about it, he instead was realistic.

Hurley complimented Allman and Ahmad’s talent, as well as that the Titans drew up a few very difficult looks for Arizona State to defend.

“Excited we got the win. Obviously it was a hard fought game, a real battle out there. It was great for us, I think we got a lot out of it,” Hurley said. “You see some of the stuff they did out there at times was unguardable for us. Both Allman and Ahmad (are) high-end players, they can play really anywhere. I thought it was great the way we battled.”

Hurley used a ten-man rotation, six of them playing over 30 minutes. All six, Dort, Lawrence, White, Martin, redshirt junior guard Rob Edwards and redshirt senior forward Zylan Cheatham scored double digits except Martin, who had eight.

Martin didn’t start the night, but played most of the second overtime and provided plenty of energy off the bench. Hurley gauged that Martin was only playing at about 60% of his full ability due to battling an injury and that his role will only continue to grow.

Martin’s health, Dort’s star potential are among the storylines that will follow this Sun Devil team. Arizona State hosts McNeese State on Friday at 7 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks.