(Photo: Eliav Gabay/WCSN)
After a sound victory over Portland State to begin the season, Arizona State basketball will look ahead to Sunday night’s matchup with the Cal Poly Mustangs of the Big West.
Torian Graham and Tra Holder each poured in 23 points for the Sun Devils Friday night, and Shannon Evans added 19. After an ugly loss on the opening night of last season, the Sun Devils were pleased to start off on the right foot this time around.
“I’m pleased to get the first game under our belt,” head coach Bobby Hurley said after Friday night’s win. “I think we are a work in progress, but we’re still finding ourselves. Overall, I’m happy with our first effort.”
For their second test of the new campaign, Hurley’s men will take on a Cal Poly squad that opened with a 77-68 loss at Pepperdine. Forward Josh Martin set career highs with 17 points and 21 rebounds as the Mustangs overcame a 15-point deficit only to hit a wall offensively, hitting just two field goals in the following six minutes. Forward Luke Meikle also added 17 for Cal Poly.
The Mustangs struggled to perform on the road last season, finishing with a 3-12 mark in their opponent’s gym. Cal Poly returns nine players from that team, which averaged 72.4 points per game a year ago. Cal Poly is a team that is not known for its defense, however, and that trend seemed to continue in Malibu as Pepperdine shot 50.8% from the field and doubled up the Mustangs in assists 25-12.
The Sun Devils will be looking to exploit that spotty defense after shooting 49% in Friday night’s win. Transfer Torian Graham hit nine of his 11 shot attempts against PSU and returnee Tra Holder made seven of his 14.
“I don’t think we shot it as well as we’re capable of shooting it,” Hurley said. “Obviously Torian helped those numbers.”
Freshman Sam Cunliffe will be looking to get going for the Sun Devils as the highly-touted recruit was held to just three points in 14 minutes of action as he battled foul trouble.
“A freshman as highly talented as (Cunliffe) might put their head down because they had a bad game, but he had positive spirits and knows he is going to get his time,” Holder said.
This will be Cal Poly’s fourth visit to ASU in the last 55 years, and the Sun Devils lead the all-time series 5-1. The last meeting between the schools was in 2007, when ASU ran the Mustangs out of the gym by a score of 75-41.
This game is the final tuneup for Arizona State before the Sun Devils head to Orlando for the Tire Pros Invitational. ASU will take on Northern Iowa in the first session of games on Thursday and will face either Tulane or Oklahoma on Friday. They will finish up the tournament next Sunday.
Tipoff for ASU-Cal Poly will be at 7 p.m. Sunday Nov. 13. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.