The Arizona State men's basketball team takes to the road looking to snap a five-game losing skid. And it will be a formidable task as the Sun Devils trek to Eugene, Oregon for a Sunday showdown against an Oregon team picked second in the conference preseason poll.
Tip-off at Matthew Knight Arena is scheduled for 5 p.m. with the contest to air on the Pac-12 Network
Not only are the Sun Devils (2-6) off to their worst start since 1969-70, they're looking to bounce back from an anemic offensive showing in a 51-29 loss to Washington State Wednesday night in their conference opener at Desert Financial Arena.
ASU shot just 21.1% (12-for-57) from the field with a woeful 3-for-26 from long distance. While that was an issue for ASU last season, coach Bobby Hurley thought he had fixed that with the addition of guard transfers Marreon Jackson and D.J. Horne, both of whom have track records of being proficient from deep. But they were a combined 6-of-23 from the field and 2-for-12 from deep.
Horne (11.9 ppg) is the team's leading scorer, just ahead of senior Kimani Lawrence (10. ppg, 8.1 rpg), who is the team's leading rebounder and has four double-doubles thus far.
The slow start to the season is surprising to the players themselves. They thought they had the makings of a contender from what they had experienced since the team started working out.
"We’re just doing a lot of things that’s not usual for us. It hasn’t been for the whole summer," Jackson said. "Hurley, he’s so surprised right now because all summer, leading up, scrimmages and all that, this is not what we’ve been about. Things definitely have to change ASAP.”
The Sun Devils have not had their entire team for even one game yet this season with sophomore forward Marcus Bagley (10 ppg, 4 rpg) missing the last five games, having aggravated a knee injury that slowed him in the lead up to the season.
Oregon (5-3) hasn't struggled the way ASU has but the Ducks have not met the expectations of veteran head coach Dana Altman either. Oregon is coming off a 71-65 win over UC Riverside, the same team to whom ASU lost on a three-quarters court shot at the buzzer.
But in the three losses to Brigham Young, St. Mary's and Houston, Oregon has been outscored by a combined 73 points.
So far the Ducks have had balance with senior forward Eric Williams (11.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg), senior guard Will Richardson (11.4 ppg) and senior guard Jacob Young (10 ppg) all averaging double figures. Oregon landed a notable transfer in Quincy Guerrier from Syracuse but he's averaging just six points despite starting all eight games.
The Pac-12 schedule makers didn't exactly do ASU any favors. After Oregon, its next two games are road ones against USC and UCLA, both nationally ranked and the latter a defending NCAA semifinalists that has its entire team returning.
There are however four non-conference games sandwiched in between the Oregon contest and the Los Angeles road swing with the first game of those being a Thursday home tilt against local foe Grand Canyon.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: ASU basketball team looks to get back on track in Pac-12 play at Oregon