Observations: Sun Devils beat UNLV, keep picking up quality victories

Arizona State continues to build a legitimate NCAA resume.

Bobby Hurley is the breakout star in the Pac-12 and conference play hasn’t even started yet.

The former Duke point guard decided to roll the dice and play as aggressive a non-conference schedule as any power-five team in the country during his first year as head coach in Tempe, Arizona.

Right now his gamble is paying major dividends.

The Sun Devils went to UNLV on Wednesday night without their top scorer and rebounder Savon Goodman — who missed the game due to personal reasons — and erased a 12-point halftime deficit to pick up a road win.

Arizona State now has road wins at UNLV and Creighton to go with a neutral-site victory over NC State and home wins over Belmont and Texas A&M.

This looks like a top half Pac-12 team that has renewed confidence under Hurley.

The Sun Devils are 7-3 overall.

Louisville’s fifth-year transfers are carrying the Cards

This is why the spring recruiting period has become so pivotal in college basketball.

Rick Pitino was set up to have a massive rebuilding season, but by landing two immediately eligible transfers in Damion Lee (Drexel) and Trey Lewis (Cleveland State) Louisville (8-1) will now have a real pulse heading into the ACC.

The duo of Lee and Lewis is currently averaging 32.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists while shooting a combined 50.8 percent, 89.0 percent from the foul line, and 40.1 percent from 3-point range.

Without these two guys, the Cardinals would finish in the bottom third of the ACC.

With them Louisville has a chance to crack the league’s top-five along with North Carolina, Virginia, Duke, and Miami.

Shaka Smart is setting Texas up to play like VCU

Leopards don’t change their spots.

Shaka Smart may have to play more traditionally this season because he’s got a surplus of big men on his roster, but you better believe he’s not going to take that route for the long term.

When he was at VCU, Smart regularly opted to use a smaller, more skilled power forward to extend the defense while regularly shuffling a plethora of guards in and out of the game on the perimeter.

Expect the same thing to happen at Texas.

The Longhorns’ got a huge commitment from Andrew Jones — one of the top guards in the Class of 2016 — on Monday and his decision to join current freshmen Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach on the perimeter ensures that Smart is banking on using smaller, quicker lineups moving forward in Austin.

This trio and 6-foot-6 forward Tevin Mack — also a freshman — will comprise a large part of the nucleus for this program moving forward beyond this season.

This Just In

Ohio State freshman Austin Grandstaff will transfer, sources told CBS Sports. Grandstaff is a former Top-100 recruit.

Tennessee transfer Jabari McGhee has committed to Western Kentucky, sources told CBS Sports. He will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Mississippi State’s Gavin Ware (knee) will meet with the Bulldogs’ team doctor on Thursday, a school spokesman told CBS Sports. Ware suffered the injury in Wednesday night’s loss at Florida State.

Arizona State's Gerry Blakes (USATSI)
Arizona State’s Gerry Blakes drives vs. UNLV on Thursday. (USATSI)

This and That

Bo Ryan averaged 12.3 conference victories a year in his 14 seasons at Wisconsin — a remarkable number considering he didn’t always have pros. Ryan had a combined winning percentage of 76.2 percent during his career at Platteville (Division III), Milwaukee and Wisconsin. I’m really going to miss this guy.

Duke’s ability to use Brandon Ingram at power forward is similar to the way Kentucky used to use Tayshaun Prince. The 6-9 forward is a mismatch problem for opposing four-men because of his skill level and can exploit mismatches with his length. It will be interesting to see how Ingram’s lean 190-pound frame does on the boards until Amile Jefferson returns from a foot injury. Jefferson is averaging 24.3 points and 9.3 rebounds over his last three games.

Indiana is set up to go on a run during the first half of the Big Ten schedule. Here are the Hoosiers’ first nine games: at Rutgers, at Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ohio State, at Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, at Wisconsin and Minnesota. There’s not a game during that stretch where Indiana will take the floor and have less talent than its opponent. Tom Crean’s team is 8-3 overall heading into Saturday’s game against Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic.

One of the reasons why Oregon has been able to start out the year 8-2 despite a bevy of injuries is how well Casey Benson takes care of the ball. The 6-3 sophomore has only committed two turnovers in 278 minutes played. Think Dana Altman trusts this guy with the ball?

Cincinnati’s Gary Clark is averaging 12.0 points and 8.6 rebounds this season in guarantee games, but just 5.3 points and 7.0 rebounds when the Bearcats have played George Washington, Nebraska, Butler, and Xavier. Mick Cronin’s squad (9-2) needs their sophomore power forward to provide more offense if they’re going to beat the better teams on their schedule.

Kareem Canty continues to put in serious work for Auburn. The Marshall transfer has scored 49 points in the Tigers’ last two games while handing out 13 assists and only committing one turnover during that span. Bruce Pearl’s squad is 5-2 overall heading into Saturday’s tilt against undefeated Xavier at the Cintas Center.

Dayton’s Charles Cooke is the best transfer in college basketball that no one is talking about. The former James Madison star is leading the Flyers in scoring (14.0) and is second in rebounding (5.7) while shooting 44.9 percent and 35.5 percent from 3-point range. Archie Miller’s team is 7-2 overall.

The most impressive part of Monmouth’s start this season? Two of the Hawks’ four big wins this year — at Georgetown and against USC in Orlando — were both by double-figures. This team is for real and has a trio of guards — Justin Robinson, Micah Seaborn, and Je’lon Hornbeak — that could have an impact in several power-five leagues.

JeQuan Lewis is straddling a fence for VCU: he’s either going to seize his opportunity or he’s going to lose his position as the Rams’ starting point guard. The junior floor general has a combined 13 turnovers in the last two games and that’s forced Will Wade to use Melvin Johnson in long stretches at the most important position on the floor. Look for that to continue for VCU (5-4) unless Lewis improves how he’s running this team.

Two years ago Kameron Chatman was a Top-40 recruit in the country. Now as a college sophomore he’s averaging just 9.4 minutes and 2.9 points for Michigan. There’s no such thing as an exact science when it comes to evaluating players. Several power-five programs were killing for this kid out of high school. It will be interesting to see how his career evolves with the Wolverines.

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