After a hard-fought win over Tarleton State to open the season, ASU men's basketball looked strong against NAU on Thursday, yet couldn't maintain the momentum in an overtime loss to Texas Southern on Sunday that dropped the Sun Devils to 2-1.
The game against NAU showcased the high ceilings of this new Sun Devil group. ASU jumped on the Lumberjacks right after tip-off, and outside of a few hiccups and mishaps, didn't take its foot off the gas.
After the game, coach Bobby Hurley spoke about those mishaps, attributing some of the "dysfunction" that took place during the game to "being in a lopsided situation and not knowing how to handle it."
Junior guard DJ Horne, recently named to the All-Pac-12 preseason second team, played arguably the best game of his career thus far as a Sun Devil. Horne led all scorers with 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting and tallied six rebounds and three assists.
Senior guard Devan Cambridge has been the Sun Devils' energy on the court. Against NAU, he scored 16 points shooting 5-of-8 from the field and 3-for-3 from three. Those numbers tell only half of the story, as the Sun Devils felt Cambridge's presence on both sides of the floor. He added six rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block to the stat sheet in the win.
"I'm going to impact the game regardless, whether I'm scoring or not," Cambridge said.
Forty rebounds helped propel ASU past the NAU Lumberjacks defeating them 84-68. The Devils shot 54.2 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from three. Four of the five starters scored double-digit points.
ASU's most significant game lead was by 35 points, and in the second half, the Lumberjacks made a surge and cut the lead to 15 points. However, the game was never in jeopardy.
The same could not be said about ASU's 67-66 overtime loss to Texas Southern in Houston on Sunday.
After a tight first half, ASU took a 51-39 lead on a Frankie Collins free throw after an Austin Nunez 3-pointer with just under eight minutes remaining in regulation.
The Sun Devils then gave up an 18-6 Texas Southern run, which included a game-tying three from Texas Southern's PJ Henry with 32 seconds left to force overtime.
Despite some overtime heroics from Collins, who finished the game with 23 points and eight rebounds, ASU could not stave off Texas Southern's momentum and suffered its first loss this season.
Junior forward Marcus Bagley, who showed improvement over the season's first two games, did not play against Texas Southern due to a hip pointer after a hard fall in Thursday's matchup versus NAU.
Strong performances from Collins and senior center Warren Washington provided positive takeaways for Sun Devil coach Hurley. Washington scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to complement his four blocks and was dominant underneath in his 29 minutes, particularly on defense.
It will take stronger performances from starters like Collins, Horne, and Washington, alongside consistent production and defense from the Sun Devil's role players, to defeat VCU when they match up for the first time in Brooklyn at the Legends Classic on Wednesday.
Edited by Walker Smith, David Rodish and Kristen Apolline Castillo.