TEMPE — After an ugly Thanksgiving night loss to No. 19 BYU, 77-49, in Las Vegas, the Sun Devils had a better performance in the consolation game of the Vegas Showdown, beating Vanderbilt 82-67 on Black Friday. The wild Las Vegas trip produced a 1-1 record on the holiday weekend and some glaring problems with head coach Bobby Hurley’s team.
On Wednesday night, Arizona State welcomed Sam Houston to Desert Financial Arena.
The Sun Devils needed to be able to flush an up-and-down weekend before a three-game stretch of crucial conference home games in Tempe. The Sun Devils leaned on their veteran guard, graduate student Jose Perez, to lead ASU to a 78-61 win. Perez had a game-high 24 points to begin the home stretch of games.
SUN DEVILS WIN— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) November 30, 2023
Arizona State beats Sam Houston State to earn their second straight victory pic.twitter.com/28GxxDSRoX
Although this is his first year with the program, graduate student guard Jose Perez knew it was a critical point of the season after an overall poor weekend. He had a one-word, three-letter response when asked about what switched for Arizona State in the last two games.
“BYU,” Perez said. “BYU punched us in the mouth. No talking about it.”
Much like his statement, Perez was all business in his performance against the Bearkats. He scored efficiently, shooting 9-13 from the field while snagging eight rebounds. He opened the game with six straight points to help the Sun Devils jump out to an early lead.
ASU had a strong hold on Sam Houston on the defensive end, which led to a 13-point lead at the midway point. The Devils held Sam Houston to just 31% from the field in the first half. Defensively, ASU forced nine turnovers to contribute to 12 points from turnovers.
“We really competed, defensively,” Hurley said. “It was our best half in the first half of getting deflections and it got us in a position where we are getting stops and thought we might be able to run on Sam Houston in transition.”
In the second half, the Sun Devils suffocating defense remained. It took Sam Houston 3:41 to score their first points of the second half. ASU finished the game with seven blocks and eight steals.
Hurley said the defensive play Wednesday night is something that should be a strength of his team. Thanks to the defensive play in the game, Arizona State managed to stretch their lead to 24 points at the 8:44 mark in the second half, finishing off the Bearkats to give the Sun Devils a 17-point win.
“We scrapped and battled tonight, proud of my team,” Hurley said.
A revenge game appears on the men’s basketball schedule as the Sun Devil will try to avenge to humiliating 37-point loss to San Fransisco on the road last season. The game will begin at 1 p.m. on Dec. 3 at Desert Financial Arena.