Hurley has One Loss ASU Basketball Soaring to New Heights at No. 4 and Into Boulder
By TJ Mathewson // Men’s Basketball Beat Writer for Blaze Sports
TEMPE, Ariz. — In Boulder today, No. 4 ASU (12-1, 0-1) will look to do something it hasn’t had to worry about so far in the 2017-18 versus Colorado (8-6, 0-2); avoid a losing streak.
“Recent history tells us that you are (probably) going to lose games over the course of the season,” Coach Bobby Hurley said on the tough loss in Tucson. “You just look at the film again, and see how hard your team competed and you appreciate that.”
Visiting Boulder has not been kind to the Sun Devils in the past ASU has compiled a 1 and 4 record versus the Buffaloes in their past five trips to the Rockies.
The altitude in Boulder is 5,430 feet, and Hurley is well aware of the effect it has on his players, citing the last time ASU played at Utah an lost by a score of 81-46.
“I gave less recovery time. I want those guys to be winded and play through being tired. There’s not many other ways to try and simulate that altitude and what that presents,” Hurley said.
In that loss to Utah, Hurley tried using hyperbaric chambers to help his players prepare for the high altitude. With the outcome being what it was, Hurley decided against using the hyperbaric chambers this time around.
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle knows quite a bit about protecting his home court, where the Buffs are 101-19 in the previous seven seasons (5-1 so far in the 2017-18 season).
The Buffs enter this conference matchup on a major downslide, having lost six of eight games in December, including their first two in conference play, after a 6-0 start to the season.
Colorado really struggled protecting the ball in its two conference losses on the road at both Oregon State and Oregon last week, and averaged 19 turnovers in those contests.
Three-point shooting has been another major struggle for the Buffs this year, shooting only 32.6 percent from behind the arc.
This is not ideal for Colorado, facing a Sun Devils team shooting 39.3 percent from behind the arc, ranking second in the PAC-12.
Besides ranking second in the PAC-12 in rebounding, Colorado ranks near the bottom of the conference in nearly every major category. The Buffs rank No. 11 of 12 or lower in scoring, field goals, three-pointers, assists, steals, and blocks.
Freshman guard McKinley Wright IV has been stellar so far for the Buffs, averaging 16 points (which leads the team), five rebounds, and nearly five assists per game.
His scoring dipped a bit in the first two conference games, only averaging 10 points, but distributed the ball more (6.5 assists per game).
Wright is far and away the best passer on this Colorado team, totaling more assists on the season (69) than the next-four highest Buffs combined (58).
Senior forward George King ranks fifth in the PAC-12 in rebounds per game with 7.9, while also second on the team in scoring with 13.2 per game.
ASU expects freshman forward Kimani Lawrence to get some minutes in this matchup, after not appearing in the game down in Tucson, his first back from injury.
“I am going to need to figure out how best to incorporate him into what we are doing, he’s got another week under his belt and he looks so much better than he did last week,” Hurley said on Lawrence.
TJ Mathewson is a beat writer for Blaze Sports covering ASU Men’s Basketball. You can reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow TJ on Twitter @TJMathewson.