Zylan Cheatham jokingly blamed freshman guard Luguentz Dort for messing up an alley-oop attempt in the Sun Devils win over Nebraska-Omaha on Wednesday. Had Dort completed the oop, Cheatham would’ve earned a triple-double.
On Saturday, Dort made up for it, his three pointer put ASU up 80-65 at the 2:46 mark in the second half. That gave Cheatham his 10th assist of the night and only the second triple-double in ASU history. Cheatham finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in Arizona State’s (7-0) 83-71 win over Texas Southern (3-5).
“I looked up and saw I had another chance, I almost couldn’t believe it. There’s no way I got another chance for a triple-double,” said Cheatham before talking about Dort’s miss on Wednesday. “I’ve been on him about it, been teasing him about it. It was jokingly, but not really. I was really mad about it.”
Cheatham’s name is now stitched into ASU history with Jordan Bachynski, who got the first Sun Devil triple-double in 2012 against Hartford. When Cheatham checked out for the final time in the win, head coach Bobby Hurley raised his hands to the crowd for a standing ovation for Cheatham.
“For them to acknowledge me, it was crazy. They were chanting my name, I haven’t had something like that in forever,” Cheatham, a Phoenix local, said. “Heads off to that crowd tonight. To see our students to come out in numbers like that was unbelievable to me.”
Hurley was asked why he choose to get the crowd into it for when Cheatham checked out:
“It really hasn’t been something that’s been done here. These things don’t happen too often,” Hurley said. “When you’re talking about unselfish statistics, his rebounding, his passing. When you have a triple-double, it’s pretty special. I wanted everyone to let him know how excited we are for him, that he’s here.”
That wasn’t the first time Hurley had helped Cheatham out on Saturday. Frustrated that he had come so close on Wednesday, the redshirt senior forward went to his head coach with five minutes left in the game with aspirations to get into the record books.
“I had told him, ‘hey, man, I’m like two assists away. Help,’” Cheatham said. “He drew up a play for me, we tried to get the lob to Lu (Dort), didn’t get it. After that he was just like ‘don’t worry about it, you’re a natural passer just play your game, it’s going to come.’ That’s what I did, and sure enough two assists later here I am.”
Making his second start, freshman forward Taeshon Cherry was on the other end of a few Cheatham assists. Cherry made a team-high four three-pointers to spark his 14 points. He did have a scary moment near the end of the first half. Cherry landed hard on his knee, with it grasped on the ground, he was carried into the locker room by teammates. He returned to the second half and looked fine. The Sun Devils avoided a serious threat to their depth with them already missing sophomore guard Remy Martin, redshirt junior guard Rob Edwards and redshirt junior forward Mickey Mitchell.
Cheatham performance will headline the win, but sophomore forward Romello White had a game-high 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting. White had a double-double by halftime, with 14 rebounds to finish the night. White was asked about the quick start:
“It felt so good,” he said. “Offensively I felt like I’ve been in a slump, I haven’t been doing what I was doing last year. Coming out here and getting started early, it was amazing. I just had a good feeling, once that I started I knew I wasn’t going to let up, I was just going to keep going.”
White also had the matchup task against Texas Southern’s 7-foot-2 center Trayvon Reed, who had 23 points for the Tigers in their upset win over No. 18 Oregon. White forced two quick fouls on Reed that sent him to the bench.
“My focus was really to get at him, as soon as jump ball went I just wanted to go at him to get him out of there. My focus was to really get him in foul trouble early, so we wouldn’t really have to deal with him. Hurley just told me to go to his chest and finish through him.”
ASU now will start the daunting part of their schedule, as they head to LA to face No.5 Nevada. Sun Devils will then travel to the eastern part of the country to play Georgia and Vanderbilt before returning to Tempe to face No. 2 Kansas.
“Our schedule is going to get exciting to this point until Christmas, I think the guys are very enthusiastic about that,” Hurley said.