Arizona State's splendid season has taken a deep nosedive and the Sun Devils will strive to halt a four-game skid when they entertain Oregon State on Thursday night in Pac-12 play at Tempe, Ariz.
The Sun Devils (15-7, 6-5 Pac-12) got off to a strong start in conference play but have dropped to sixth place due to the slide. Their most recent victory was a 74-69 decision over the host Beavers on Jan. 14.
As the rematch with Oregon State (9-13, 3-8) arrives, Arizona State is also dealing with dissension. Second-leading scorer D.J. Horne will be available Thursday after serving a one-game suspension for "conduct detrimental to the team."
Horne, who averages 11.2 points, was pulled early in the second half of Arizona State's 69-66 overtime loss to Washington last Thursday and was highly upset at coach Bobby Hurley. He then missed Saturday's 75-58 setback at Washington State due to the disciplinary measure.
"I think for him personally, he has a very high standard for his quality of play," Hurley told Arizona Sports. "He has not reached that mark the last couple of games, and following the game (against Washington) he was highly frustrated and it resulted in the disciplinary action.
"He and I have had really good conversations over the last couple of days and he was in practice (Monday). It's a one-off and he'll be back in the lineup on Thursday night."
Horne averaged just 1.5 points on 1-of-12 shooting over his last two appearances. He committed six turnovers in just 32 total minutes.
Desmond Cambridge Jr. leads the Sun Devils in scoring at 13.9 points per game. He had 21 points in the earlier victory over Oregon State.
The Beavers are coming off a 60-52 home win over Colorado. Jordan Pope led the way with 19 points to raise his team-best average to 12.6.
Oregon State has won two of its past three games after losing the previous six contests.
"We're getting our culture back," Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said after the triumph over Colorado. "We've got the right character. We've got the talent. We're this close."
The pressure is also off the Beavers as they make a two-game road swing to face Arizona State and Arizona (on Saturday).
Oregon State dropped 25 consecutive road or neutral-court games -- beginning with a loss to Houston in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament -- before routing Cal 68-48 on Jan. 22.
"Just like the Cal win, we've got to stay poised, execute what we've been doing, hang our hats on defense and just continue this momentum on the road," forward Glenn Taylor Jr. said.
--Field Level Media