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ASU Basketball: Sun Devils return to action against USC and UCLA

Back in action

NCAA Basketball: Texas-El Paso at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State (4-3) returns to the hardcourt this week to challenge UCLA (7-2) and USC (6-2) after a long break due to COVID-19 issues both within the Sun Devil program and their opponents.

The road to get here has been long, full of stops and starts, but the attitude of the program is one of optimism as the team prepares for its game against UCLA, their first since Dec. 16.

“I feel a great appreciation for the ability to be able to go to work, to practice, to train these guys to have a chance to compete,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said to reporters Wednesday morning. “With all the obstacles and the land mines that are out there, we just feel fortunate.”

What Time/Where To Watch

Both games will be on national television, with Thursday’s game against UCLA airing on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. PST. Saturday’s game against USC will be on the Pac-12 Network, tipping off at 4:00 p.m. PST.

Players to Watch

Let’s start with the Bruins. Off to a fast start at 7-2, the Bruins have been led by Tyger Campbell. The sophomore guard is averaging just under 11 points per game, which he has coupled with a strong 7.2 assists per game.

“With his assist totals and running their team and his durability, he plays heavy minutes and does a great job really leading that team,” Hurley said of Campbell.

Hurley also mentioned Jamie Jaquez Jr. as someone the Devils would have to look out for. This season, Jaquez Jr. has become a serious threat from three-point range, shooting 47 percent from behind the arc on his way to 13.3 points per game.

For USC, the most visible threat will be Evan Mobley, a 7-foot 210-pound unit that averages 15 points and eight rebounds per game through his first eight games in his college career.

Mobley might have a field day on the boards against ASU, considering the Devils lost the rebounding battle to UTEP, and considering his size advantage against expected rebound challengers Jalen Graham (6-foot-9) and Christ Osten (6-foot-9).

Last Year

ASU swept UCLA and USC at home during a February series last year, but dropped both when the team traveled to Southern California later that month.

Other Notes

  • Hurley told media that Marvin Bagley would return to the rotation for Thursday’s game. Bagley has not seen the court since suffering a calf injury in the waning moments against Cal a month ago.
  • Hurley has told Remy Martin to be more aggressive offensively in terms of looking for his shot earlier on in possessions.
  • Hurley mentioned changes to the lineup may be seen to counteract the size disadvantages against the Bruins and Trojans.