(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils return home after a less than pleasant road excursion as they prepare to host the UNLV Rebels Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.
After giving up 110 points to The Citadel but still securing the victory, the defense did not improve in the Bahamas, as the Sun Devils were toppled 115-69 by top-ranked Kentucky. While the scoreline did not look too promising, it is not quite doomsday yet for coach Bobby Hurley.
“We hoped we would have performed a little better, but the reality is we are in the second year of a process that we hope to learn something from,” coach Hurley said after Monday’s loss.
The Sun Devils will hope to transform from the Kentucky matchup on Saturday night, as they host a UNLV team that they defeated on the road last season. The Sun Devils outscored the Rebels 41-19 in the second half of last season’s contest that saw ASU claw back from a 14-point deficit to claim the victory.
The Sun Devils have yet to pick up a signature win yet this season, with their best victory coming against Tulane in the Tire Pros Invitational. While a win over UNLV may not vault them into the tournament, the Rebels are still a solid mid-major program that ASU could get a confidence boost from beating.
This year’s UNLV team is also still in search of its first big win, and is hoping to secure that with a road trip to Tempe. The Rebels have only played one team from a Power 5 conference this year, losing by four to the TCU Horned Frogs at the Global Sports Classic. They are coming off an 89-81 road win over Southern Utah in which they never trailed throughout the contest. They are 5-2 with wins over UC Riverside, CS Fullerton, NAU, Western Kentucky, and the Thunderbirds, while their other loss came at home to South Alabama.
UNLV is led by sophomore guard Jalen Poyser with 17.1 points per game, while 6-8 forward Dwayne Morgan leads the Rebels in rebounding with an average of 7.3 per game.
Arizona State is a solid 61-14 at home in the last five seasons, including 3-0 so far this campaign. This will be the second road game for UNLV after Wednesday’s victory, as their first six games all took place in the friendly confines of the Thomas & Mack Center.
After this matchup, the Sun Devils will head cross-country to Brooklyn to face another stiff test in Purdue at the Jimmy V Classic. ASU will then head directly the other direction to San Diego to play its only true road game of the non-conference slate against San Diego State.
Saturday’s game will tip off at 6 p.m. Arizona time and will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.