TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State returned from a tournament title in Las Vegas missing three players due to injuries.
After a sluggish start, the Sun Devils didn't seem to need them. Not with so much depth and Zylan Cheatham filling up the stat sheet.
Cheatham orchestrated Arizona State's offense and finished an assist short of the second triple-double in school history, helping the Sun Devils roll to an 89-71 victory over Nebraska-Omaha Wednesday night.
"Zylan's approach was unbelievable," Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said. "Just his patience, his unselfishness, his passing and his defense. He's a winner and a heck of a player."
Arizona State (6-0) beat No. 15 Mississippi State and Utah State last week to win the MGM Main Event in Las Vegas. The Sun Devils were short-handed against Omaha (3-5), playing without guards Rob Edwards (back) and Remy Martin (ankle) and forward Mickey Mitchell (toe).
Arizona State needed an adjustment period with three key players missing before overwhelming the Mavericks with a massive run spanning halftime to start the blowout. The Sun Devils shot 62 percent and had a 41-27 rebounding advantage.
Cheatham finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Luguentz Dort and Kimani Lawrence had 19 points each, and Taeshon Cherry added 18 for Arizona State.
"We came out with a slow start, kind of back to our old ways for a second, we had to regroup," Cheatham said. "We just had to talk to each other and figure it out."
The Mavericks, coming off an 82-55 loss to Iowa State on Monday, attacked Arizona State early, building an eight-point lead midway through the first half. Once the Sun Devils got rolling, Omaha was no match for their length and athleticism.
Zach Jackson had 17 points after being held to 13 against Iowa State and Matt Pile added 15 points for Omaha, which gave up 17 second-chance points on 14 offensive rebounds.
"They got us on putbacks," Omaha coach Derrin Hansen said. "Our first-shot defense still wasn't bad, when they can go get it, a high-major player against a mid-major team is just different."
The Mavericks took advantage of Arizona State's depleted lineup early, hitting 10 of their first 17 shots and using a 9-0 run to go up 25-17.
The Sun Devils tightened up on defense and found their offensive rhythm after that, going on a 7-0 run on their way to building a 50-40 halftime lead. Dort had 12 points, Cherry 10 and Arizona State made 18 of 31 shots in the first half.
The Sun Devils opened the second half with three straight 3-pointers, pushing the lead to 19 in the first three minutes. Arizona State kept rolling, stretching the run to 16-2 and the lead to 66-42, all but putting the game out of reach.
Omaha had some good moments in the first half that it can build on once the Summit League starts. Trying to win a Pac-12 road game against a team as talented as Arizona State was going to be difficult for the Mavericks, even with the Sun Devils playing short-handed.
"We're going to play in great arenas and great fan bases, just not against those types of athletes," Hansen said. "Things that don't quite work against length and athleticism and size that we don't see, we can now look at that and get better. It will help us in the long run."
Arizona State did what it was supposed to against a team from a lower-level league, staying unbeaten despite playing without three key players and a sluggish start.
Cheatham finished just short of joining Jordan Bachynski as the only Arizona State players with a triple-double.
Bachynski had his in a win against Cal State-Northridge in 2014, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 12 blocked shots.
Cheatham had a chance at the history books in the game's the final minute, but Dort missed on a lob pass.
"I've been on Lu pretty much since the last buzzer sounded," Cheatham said. "He missed on that lob and it would have sealed the deal. It happens."
The Mavericks entered the game shooting 33 percent from 3-point range
Omaha plays at Seattle on Dec. 6.
Arizona State hosts Texas Southern on Saturday.