Firmly ahead late in the first half for the second straight game, ASU basketball closed out Colorado 83-61 for its first win of Pac-12 play.
For the first time in Luguentz Dort‘s college career, the four-star freshman guard was relegated to the bench.
While Dort’s recent offensive cold spell (14-of-59 shooting) makes a case for a lineup change, the alteration might’ve been exactly what Arizona State needed to rediscover itself after losing four of its past six games.
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With Lake starting, redshirt senior forward Zylan Cheatham opened the game as the team’s lead guard while redshirt sophomore forward Romello White was able to roam the high post and shift between blocks, both adjustments that impacted the game from the tip.
Only one true guard started for ASU (Rob Edwards), allowing Hurley to employ a stifling 2-3 zone that kept Colorado off the scoreboard for the first 5:35, building a 8-0 lead. Lake, along with White, Cheatham, Edwards and sophomore forward Kimani Lawrence reignited a defense responsible for conceding 96 points two nights prior.
At halftime, the Buffaloes were below 30 percent shooting. That number marginally improved to 33 percent at the final horn.
Offensively, White displayed versatility praised in the offseason that was kept hidden until Saturday afternoon. By the first media timeout he had six quick points, scoring in the post off of both shoulders as well as a 12-foot jump shot.
White finished with a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds.
But the Sun Devils’ scoring was not centered around one player or one mentality. Learning from a collapse against Utah in which ASU lost a 17-point lead and fell by double digits, individuality was replaced by selflessness and unbridled energy tempered by composure.
Sophomore guard Remy Martin returned to the bench as well, tallying his season-high assist total (8) while five Sun Devils finished in double-figure scoring.
Lake, in his first start of the season, had 12 points and seven rebounds, but the most important numbers reside with Dort and Lawrence. Both shot 50 percent or better from the floor for the first time since mid-December, combining to score 25 points.
Though 16 games remain on the Sun Devils’ Pac-12 schedule, their performance against Colorado is a sign of life reminiscent of the team that upset then-No.1 Kansas just two weeks ago.
Whether Saturday’s outcome was a fluke or ASU turning a corner will be determined shortly. The Sun Devils travel to California and Stanford next week with the chance to make a statement as ASU has yet to sweep a road weekend under Hurley.