On Saturday, ASU basketball came from behind to defeat Georgia in Athens. Now, the Sun Devils shift their focus to their next opponent — Vanderbilt.
Even though Arizona State left Stegeman Coliseum the victor, Saturday’s game against Georgia was not pretty.
For the majority of the contest, the Bulldogs were in control. This was, in part, due to five Sun Devils recording two or more fouls in the first half. Because of this, head coach Bobby Hurley had to institute some non-traditional lineups.
Additionally, the early season’s x-factor, Luguentz Dort, went cold. The freshman shot just 2-of-10 from the field, finishing with 12 points.
Thankfully for the Sun Devils, Remy Martin led a charge in the second half. Martin fired on all cylinders and ended the game with 21 points. This helped ASU overcome its largest halftime deficit since 2008.
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ASU outscored Georgia 43-27 in the final 20 minutes of play, leading the Sun Devils to a 76-74 win.
With the victory, Arizona State is now 8-1. The only loss came at the hands of No. 6 Nevada, which snuck past the Sun Devils 72-66 in Los Angeles.
Before beginning conference play, Arizona State will play three more non-conference games. The first is against an Vanderbilt — another SEC opponent.
Perhaps Vanderbilt’s biggest strength is offense. Averaging 83.9 points per game as a team, the Commodores are No. 28 in the nation in scoring offense.
Through eight games, the Commodores are 6-2. Their two losses came against Kent State and NC State.
In the first of the aforementioned defeats, star freshman Darius Garland suffered a knee injury in the first half. It was discovered after the game that the NBA prospect tore his meniscus, ending his season.
Prior to the injury, Garland was shining. He averaged more than 16 points per game, which included a 19-point performance in Vanderbilt’s 82-78 win over USC.
Since then, the Commodores have dealt with the absence of a superstar. But they haven’t looked bad in the process.
The SEC program has won two of its last three, outscoring opponents by a combined 49 points. And the Commodores’ loss against NC State was respectable, considering the Wolfpack are 9-1 to start the year.
In Garland’s absence, Simisola Shittu has stepped up as the team’s key player. A freshman forward, Shittu is averaging 15.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest.
But it hasn’t been a one-man show.
At the helm for Vanderbilt is head coach Bryce Drew.
A former Valpariso player and head coach, Drew has been in Nashville for three seasons. Drew is 37-38 in his Vanderbilt tenure, much because of a 12-20 season a year ago.
In its most recent game, Vanderbilt took care of business against a mid-major, Middle Tennessee State. The Commodores upended the Blue Raiders in a 28-point win at home.
Monday’s matchup against Vanderbilt is ASU’s last test before it hosts Kansas — the No. 1 team in the AP Poll. Facing a quality opponent, this young squad can gain valuable confidence and experience before it plays a much-established KU team.
Tip-off between the Sun Devils and Commodores will be at 5 p.m. from the Memorial Gymnasium. The game will be televised via SEC Network.