Men's Hoops Opens Friday at 5:30 vs. Morehead State
Nov. 20, 2002
SEASON OPENING SET FOR NOV. 22: The Arizona State men's basketball team takes on the Morehead State Eagles at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, at Wells Fargo Arena (14,141). After their game with Morehead State, the Sun Devils will face preseason No. 17 Kentucky in the first round of the Maui Invitational on Monday, Nov. 25, at 4 p.m. Hawaii Time (7 p.m. Arizona) on ESPN. Friday's game with Morehead State is part of a doubleheader with the women's team opening its season at 8 p.m. vs. Chicago State. Fans purchasing a ticket for the men's game will receive free admission to the women's game, which will tip off 30 minutes after the conclusion of the men's game. The ASU squad is ready to get out of its practice gear and into the uniforms, as the Nov. 22 tip-off is the latest since the 1996-97 team also opened on Nov. 22. In 2000, when this year's seniors were sophomores, ASU tipped its regular season on Nov. 10 and its exhibition season on Nov. 1. ASU had played four regular season games that year by the time this year's team will have played one. Newcomers could play significant minutes and if a freshman starts it would mark only the second time that has happened in the opening game in the past 10 years, as Donnell Knight also started the opener in 1999-2000. Two injuries have affected the ASU rotation, as highly touted 6-8 freshman Serge Angounou will miss all of the season after injuring his kneecap in the first exhibition. Angounou had surgery on Nov. 15 and will be out for three months and will take a medical redshirt. Also, reserve swingman Kenny Crandall is still recovering from a broken fibula suffered in April and is limited. Senior Curtis Millage, the team's leading returning scorer from last year, missed both exhibition games due to an eligibility issue.
PAC-10 MEDIA POLL: ASU was picked to finish fourth by the Pac-10 Media, announced on Nov. 6. It marked the highest preseason prediction for ASU since 1994-95 when it was picked fourth. Arizona was a unanimous choice for the top spot among the 27 media members. The poll: 1. Arizona; 2. Oregon; 3. UCLA; 4. Arizona St.; 5. Cal; 6. USC; 7. Stanford; 8. Oregon St.; 9. Washington; 10. Washington St.
REGARDING OPENING GAMES: ASU beat Stephen F. Austin 92-61 on Nov. 17, 2002, to win its 12th straight home opener. Rob Evans is now 8-2 in season lid-lifters in his 10 seasons (3-1 at ASU). The last time ASU lost a home opener was on Dec. 5, 1989, when ASU fell to BYU 65-64.
KENTUCKY MEMORY: As Rob Evans built the Ole Miss program, perhaps the most satisfying moment in his six-year stay came against Kentucky, as his Rebels beat seventh-ranked Kentucky 73-64 on Feb. 14, 1998, the first win for Ole Miss in Lexington since Feb. 11, 1927. That victory broke a 41-game losing streak at Kentucky and was the last defeat for Kentucky that year as it won the national title. Evans was 2-5 against Kentucky while at Ole Miss, but his teams won two of the past three.
MAUI HISTORY: Arizona State took full advantage of its trip to Maui in 1994, as the Sun Devils beat Texas A & M 103-73, #13 Michigan 79-62 and topped #7 Maryland 97-90 in the title game. ASU was not ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll, but jumped to 12th a week later. That entry into the rankings is tied for the third-biggest jump into the polls since it went to its current top 25 format in 1989-90. In his first year at ASU, Rob Evans went 1-2 in Maui in 1998 as it fell to No. 18 Utah 65-48, lost to Kansas State 84-80 in overtime and beat Chaminade 78-64. Overall, ASU is 5-4 in the Maui Invitational, as it went 1-2 in 1991.
THE EXHIBITIONS: ASU won both its exhibition games this year as Evans is now 8-2 in preseason games at ASU. ASU topped EA Sports on Nov. 13, 107-89, behind five players in double figures, led by Ike Diogu's 21 points. ASU topped Team Ezybonds from Australia 98-96 on Nov. 18 behind Diogu's 34 points and 11 boards. Diogu was 21-of-33 (.636) from the field in the two games.
LAST YEAR'S QUICK REVIEW: ASU (14-15; 7-11 in Pac-10) beat four NCAA Tournament teams last season, including three from the Pac-10. ASU beat Pac-10 Champion Oregon 95-88 on Jan. 6, No. 10 Arizona 88-72 on Jan. 23 and won at No. 20 UCLA 69-68 on Feb. 16. It marked the first time ASU has topped Arizona and UCLA in the same season since 1985-86. The Sun Devils were 13-9 on the year in mid-February but three key injuries and a streak of games to finish the year against six straight ranked teams put ASU at 14-14 to finish the regular season before it lost at UNLV 96-91 in the NIT. ASU went 4-9 against NCAA Tournament teams as it also beat Utah 71-62 on Dec. 4 and finished the regular season by playing 11 of its final 13 games against NCAA squads. ASU's six-game stretch to finish the regular season was the first time in school history it played six straight ranked teams.
DEVIL DATA: ASU was 14-3 (.824) when it led at the half but 0-10 when it trailed and 0-2 when tied last year...point guard Jason Braxton averaged 8.6 points in the 10 games against ranked opponents and averaged 26.3 minutes and 8.8 points in the final 14 games...ASU is 26-4 (.867) under Evans when it shoots at least 50 percent, including a 16-2 (.889) mark in the past two seasons...Justin Allen played a season-high 17 minutes at USC on Feb. 14. He finished the season 7-of-15 (.467) from beyond the three-point stripe in the final nine games...after starting the season 3-of-19 (.158) from beyond the three-point stripe in the first seven games, Curtis Millage was 29-of-82 (.354) in the final 22 games...ASU averaged 16.78 assists per game in Pac-10 play, first in the loop...ASU's win at UCLA last year snapped a 15-game losing streak at Pauley Pavilion that dated to Feb. 16, 1987.
ROB EVANS: Rob Evans (146-141/.509) is in his fifth season at Arizona State in 2002-2003 (11th overall) after being hired on April 7, 1998. The 1997 SEC Coach of the Year spent six seasons at Ole Miss, compiling an 86-81 (.515) record. He led the Rebels to a 42-16 record in his final two seasons after going 44-65 (.403) in his first four seasons, winning two SEC West titles, and led Ole Miss to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1937-38. The 56-year old Evans is a 1968 graduate of New Mexico State, where he captained two NCAA Tournament teams, is a 1989 inductee of the NMSU Athletic Hall of Fame and was named to the school's All-Time Basketball team. He is 60-60 (.500) at ASU. Evans' Ole Miss squads were known as tough man-to-man teams which ranked 13th in the nation and second in the SEC in 1997-98 in rebounding at +6.6, despite no player was in the top 30 in rebounding nationally. Ole Miss held opponents to just 30 percent from the three-point stripe, best in the SEC, and to just 40.6 percent from the field. He is 102-75 (.576) in the past six seasons.