As Arizona State junior transfer guard Andre Spight fell to the ground after being fouled on his three-point shot from the corner with 3:24 left to go in the first half, ASU's bench stood up in anticipation as they watched the shot float towards the basket.
And as the shot swished through and the sparse crowd at Wells Fargo Arena erupted in celebration, one would think the Sun Devils just broke a tie game against Division II Western New Mexico on Saturday afternoon.
But that was hardly the case.
Spight's throw away three-pointer had merely extended the Sun Devils 44-8 lead as ASU added onto its 37-0 run to end the first half. After all, it was just that type of day for the Sun Devils.
In ASU's first exhibition match since November 2007, the Sun Devils used their offensive prowess to stomp over Western New Mexico 102-34 on Saturday afternoon. Shooting 54.7 percent from the floor on 41 of 75 shooting from the field, every shot was seemingly falling in for ASU -- case and point Spight's fade away three-pointer from the corner as he was getting fouled.
"I feel bad in a sense for Western New Mexico there and what they had to go through, but I'm in a tough bind because we have to get the repititions," first-year head coach Bobby Hurley said. "Our guys need the minutes to prepare for the opener."
After jumping to a 19-8 lead with 11:56 left in the first half, ASU kept its foot on the gas pedal until the final whistle. Dominating every facet of the game against an inferior opponent, the Sun Devils recorded 62 rebounds on the game, nearly doubling the point total for the Mustangs.
But while ASU was facing a Division II opponent and its performance has to be taken with a grain of salt, there were multiple positive signs heading into the Sun Devils' opener against Sacramento State on Friday night. On offense, in addition to ASU recording 20 assists on 41 made baskets, it also dominated the offensive glass, snagging 16 offensive rebounds on the game -- something Hurley found to be a positive in a run-away game for his team.
"We can't assume a player is going to make a shot," Hurley said. "We hope he will, but we talk about it in practice. Being aggressive, going to the offensive glass to get another possession for us."
Hurley signaled out senior forward Willie Atwood and sophomore guard Maurice O'Field for their clean-up play below the basket, especially Atwood, who recorded 12 points, going 5 of 8 from the field and grabbed down eight rebounds. ASU newcomer junior forward Obinna Oleka also had a solid game in his first performance for the Sun Devils, recording a double-double and leading the team with 18 points, going 7 of 13 from the field and grabbing down 12 rebounds.
"It's a rodeo when you have new guys," senior guard Gerry Blakes said. "You got to get them acclimated, you have to get them comfortable, you also have to get them prepared for bigger things. Letting them see the ball going into the hole can be important for them and give them confidence."
In Hurley's debut exhibition game, the first-year coach experimented with numerous lineups throughout the game, giving returners sophomore guard Tra Holder, senior center Eric Jacobsen, Blakes and Atwood the start in addition to newcomer Spight. Junior forward Savon Goodman did not participate in the exhibition due to a stress reaction in his foot.
"Obviously it's a plus we played well and he (Goodman) wasn't part of it," Hurley said. "He's getting back to the practice floor. He's doing more and more each day and we're encouraged in getting him back into the fold. He brings the energy and the rebounding and a lot of things we need from him."
Incorporating newcomers into the fold was a big focus for Hurley Saturday afternoon and post-game he said he even wished he could have given the new players more time on the court.
"I wanted to get them even more minutes," Hurley said. "Andre Spight looked sharp in his minutes, very efficient and he had some foul issues that hopefully he'll learn from," Hurely said. "Picking up two fouls early in a half isn't a good thing so we talked about that with him."
Spight scored 15 points on five of six shooting from the field and grabbed down five rebounds.