Going into the season, one thing Arizona State men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley wanted was to see his team do better defending its own floor. His team also was looking to avoid one of those “bad” losses that can hurt you come NCAA postseason selection time. ASU had a couple of those last season and had to squeak their way into the field with a late-season surge.
The Sun Devils accomplished both of those things, turning back Sam Houston State 78-61 Wednesday in nonconference play at Desert Financial Arena. With the win, ASU (4-2) improved to 3-0 at home.
ASU shot 51.6% (33-for-64), and finished with a 50-38 advantage in points in the paint as well as a 28-22 advantage in fast break points. Most impressive were the team’s 19 assists to nine turnovers.
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Sam Houston, out of the Western Athletic Conference, shot 35.3% (24-for-68) and had 15 turnovers.
ASU played without 7-foot center Shawn Phillips and 6-9 Zane Meeks, both of whom are nursing foot injuries. It was the third game missed for Phillips who is not expected back until the start of conference play at the earliest.
“We scrapped and battled tonight. I’m proud of my team,” Hurley said. “This was a dangerous game. I was very concerned coming into this game, considering the injury issues we’ve had on the frontcourt but we really competed. Defensively it was our best half as far as getting deflections. It got us in position of getting…