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What to Watch for: Arizona State-UC Riverside

Following Arizona State's opening night win over Portland, all eyes will be on the Sun Devils for their second game of the year against UC Riverside.

The Arizona State Sun Devils are riding high following their first win of the season, a 76-60 victory over Portland on Tuesday night that saw five players have double-digit scoring and a Pilots team that turned the ball over 21 times in the loss. 

However, head coach Bobby Hurley (unsurprisingly) wasn't ready to pop champagne bottles just yet following his team's performance on Tuesday.

"I don’t think anything negative happened today except for a stretch of two or three minutes late in the second half when transition defense fell through and we had to call timeout about that," Hurley said. 

"Otherwise it was not an effort thing or how hard we competed. We just weren’t as efficient as we needed to be, especially on offense."

The Sun Devils brought the heat on defense, constantly rotating to close out open players and possessing active hands that disrupted some of the offensive flow Portland tried to establish.

Now, with a 1-0 record, Arizona State plays host to UC Riverside on Thursday with a chance to begin their 2021-2022 campaign with two straight home wins. 

What to Watch for: Arizona State-UC Riverside

New potential rotations: Hurley used only eight players on Tuesday, frequently subbing players in and out through both halves. Whether that was due to Jalen Graham, Jay Heath and Justin Rochelin's absence because of COVID or Hurley simply tinkering with different lineups remains to be seen.

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With live game film and experience under everyone's belt for this season, expect the Sun Devils to continue finding optimal lineups through consistent substitutions, although lineups should be a tad different from Tuesday moving forward.

Better shooting/shot selection: Hurley wasn't a fan of Arizona State's shot selection on Tuesday.

"Overly, I just feel like, we won the game, we did what we needed to do. We had the game in doubles for the majority of the second half and we kind of controlled it there but, we shot way too many (three-pointers) early in the first half, too many quick ones, too," Hurley said.

Arizona State shot just 7-for-26 (27%) from behind the arc, leaving room for obvious improvement. We'll see if it was just first-game jitters or if rust still needs to be shaken off from Sun Devil shooters.

Continued dominance in the paint: Arizona State outrebounded Portland 42-27, while outmuscling the Pilots on the offensive boards, 13-4. 

The Sun Devils, known for having a tremendous backcourt, would greatly benefit from having a prominent presence in the post. Center Enoch Boakye played well in his first taste of action on Tuesday, while forwards Kimani Lawrence and Marcus Bagley combined for 16 rebounds. 

We'll see if the Sun Devils can maintain their impressive rebounding figures on Thursday. When Arizona State experiences cold streaks shooting the ball, ASU's big men will have to step up much like they did on Tuesday, providing balance to the offense when the Sun Devils need it most.