No. 20 Arizona State seeks second straight win vs. SEC foe at Vanderbilt

No. 18 Arizona State engineered an 18-point comeback to beat Georgia on Saturday, and the deciding basket came on a play that illustrates the difference between this year's group and last year's perimeter-oriented NCAA Tournament team.

Lugeuntz Dort, a 6-foot-4 freshman, powered his way through 6-11 forward Nicolas Claxton for the go-ahead layup with 11 seconds remaining, then added a free throw after stealing a pass in the Sun Devils' 76-74 road victory, a game in which they did not lead until the final three minutes.

Arizona State (8-1) will continue its two-game SEC tour at Vanderbilt (6-2) on Monday. The Commodores have split their last four after losing top freshman guard Darius Garland to a season-ending meniscus injury.

On the go-ahead bucket, Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley ran a play in which center Romello White cleared out and took his man with him, leaving Dort one-on-one on the right wing.

Dort, who leads the Sun Devils with a 20.9 scoring average, was 1 of 9 from the floor before his layup made it 75-74.

"It was about where we could attack and make a play," said Hurley, who posted his 100th career victory.

Arizona State rebounded from their lone loss of the season to No. 6 Nevada on Dec. 7, in which it gave up a 15-point, first-half lead.

Big swings have not been uncommon for the Sun Devils this season. Then-No. 15 Mississippi State overcame an 18-point first-half deficit to tie the score in the final minute before Arizona State pulled ahead for a 72-67 win in the MGM Resorts Main Event on Nov. 20 in Las Vegas.

"We're a very determined group, a resilient group, and a lot of teams would have backed out of this one, maybe, at halftime," said Hurley, whose team trailed by 14 at the half against Georgia.

"We circled the wagons. We already knew this year that Mississippi State came back on us. Nevada just recently had the big lead and they came back, so it was kind of like, 'Well, why not us?'"

White scored 16 points and Zylan Cheatham had 10 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double, his fourth in succession, but it was the return of sophomore point guard Remy Martin that made the difference at Georgia.

Martin, who had been in and out of the lineup while battling a high ankle sprain, tied a career high with 21 points and added eight rebounds and five assists. His jumper with 2:50 remaining gave the Sun Devils their first lead at 71-70.

"He's not afraid of the moment at all in these tough environments," Hurley said. "He really has a great spirit about him. He's a winner."

The Sun Devils had a 38-34 rebounding advantage against the Bulldogs. Arizona State is averaging 11.6 rebounds more than its opponents, No. 7 in NCAA Division I.

Vanderbilt has not played in almost two weeks, breaking for finals after a 79-51 victory over Middle Tennessee State on Dec. 5.

Commodores 6-10 freshman Simisola Shittu had a team-high 15 points against Middle Tennessee, and he has scored in double figures in seven of eight games while leading the team in scoring (15.9) and rebounding (7.8). He had double-doubles in his first two games, against Winthrop and USC.

Garland, like Shittu a 2018 McDonald's All-American, scored 33 points in a 79-70 victory over Liberty but was injured two minutes into the game against Kent State three days later.

"I don't think it is something that we are just, 'Oh, we're over it, we're going to move on,'" Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said.

"We ran a lot of offense through Darius. He made a lot of guys better. We are going to have to find ways to exploit some of the positives that we have. But we know that we have a lot of good players on our team, and we know we a lot ahead of us and we have to move forward."

Guard Saben Lee, who attended high school in Arizona State's home of Tempe, Ariz., could be tasked with more. He is averaging 11.8 points and a team-high 3.9 assists, and he had a career-high 24 points in a 76-64 loss at Arizona State last season.

Copyright 2018 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Our Latest Stories