Sun Devils Win 94-74 Behind Diogu's 28 Points And 10 Boards

Nov. 17, 2003

By Brian Gomez,

At times, Keith Wooden spelled Ike Diogu, and in some stretches, Diogu spelled Wooden on a night in which most people could neither spell nor pronounce the name of the Arizona State men's basketball team's opponent.

Playing alongside each other as starters, then in place of each other for most of the game, Diogu and Wooden combined for 39 points and 17 rebounds Monday to help lift the Sun Devils to a 94-74 win over Ratiopharm Ulm, a German traveling team, in their exhibition finale at Wells Fargo Arena.

Diogu totaled a game-high 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, to go along with 10 rebounds, in his first action of the season, while Wooden marked 11 points on a 5-of-7 effort from inside the arc.

'We've been really working on both those guys together inside and outside so that they can try to get some mismatches,' ASU head coach Rob Evans said. 'For stretches, Keith did a pretty good job, and Ike was pretty consistent.'

Showing no ill effects of the right hip strain that kept him out of the lineup last week against the EA Sports Southwest All-Stars, Diogu started on a flurry, scoring his team's first six points before two quick fouls caused him to sit on the bench.

Enter Wooden, labeled one of the most promising prospects in Evans' latest recruiting class, not only because he has a build similar to that of former ASU center Mario Bennett.

Wooden scored all 11 of his points over the closing 16 minutes of the first half, blending a hearty array of low-post moves and hustle on the offensive boards. His banker off the glass, coupled with junior guard Steve Moore's three-pointer and freshman guard Tron Smith's three-point play, on successive possessions gave the Sun Devils a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

'We wanted to establish the inside game early,' Wooden said. 'My teammates were there for me, and they supported me. They're the ones giving me the ball.'

Despite picking up his third foul early in the second half, Diogu managed to string together seven points in part of a 16-2 run over the opening six minutes that put the game out of reach. He scored first on a bank shot, then drained a three-pointer and tipped in Smith's miss to give ASU a 55-38 lead with 16:04 remaining.

'There's always room for improvement,' Diogu said. 'We've got to come ready to play on Saturday because these games right here don't count. The real thing is on Saturday.'

As a team, the Sun Devils shot 54 percent from the field, a vast improvement compared to the 44.4 percent they posted against EA Sports. They also turned the ball over fewer times (12) and again won the battle of the boards (34-26).

'We got better in all phases,' Evans said. 'Defensively, we did a lot better job, and we executed a little bit better offensively, but we can still do a better job of handling the basketball and moving the basketball.'

Sophomore forward Allen Morill finished with 12 points, while Moore and Smith had 10 apiece. Moore also had eight assists and six rebounds in 24 minutes.

REMEMBERING LEGENDS: Before the game, a moment of silence was held to remember former ASU men's basketball head coach Ned Wulk and former ASU faculty member Tom DeMassa, both of whom passed away over the weekend. DeMassa's wife worked with the football program at ASU.

Wulk is remembered most for putting the Sun Devils on the map as a basketball powerhouse before the advent of the Pac-10 Conference. Under Wulk, ASU went 406-272 (.599) from 1957-1982, including 94-24 (.797) at the former University Activity Center, which bears his name at midcourt in what's now called Wells Fargo Arena.

'He was an ally of mine, and he was a very good friend, not only to me, but he was a friend to Arizona State, to the Sun Devil program and to all the people in the Valley,' said Evans, who played against one of Wulk's teams as a student-athlete at New Mexico State. 'I told my team that wherever he is tonight, we want to make sure he's pleased with what we do because he built this program and he built this gymnasium.

'He is Sun Devil basketball, and he always will be. There's nobody that will be bigger than him.'


*ASU is now 10-2 in exhibition games under Evans.

*ASU shot 58.1 percent (18-of-31) in the second half. It was 22-of-28 (.786) from the free throw line.

*Ten Sun Devils played at least 10 minutes, while Keith Wooden led with 26 minutes.

*ASU started two freshman (Keith Wooden and Tron Smith). Should Evans start two freshmen on Saturday vs. Arkansas Little-Rock, it would mark the first time two freshman have started in a Sun Devil season opener since the 1990-91 season. Only twice has a freshman started in the opening game in the past 10 years at ASU, as Donnell Knight started the opener in 1999-2000 and Ike Diogu started the opener last year. Prior to Knight and Diogu, the last freshman to start a season opener at ASU was Ron Riley in 1992.

*ASU beat Morehead State 59-56 on Nov. 22, 2003, to win its 13th straight home opener last year. Rob Evans is 9-2 in season lid-lifters in his 11 seasons (4-1 at ASU). The last time ASU lost a home opener was on Dec. 5, 1989, when ASU fell to BYU 65-64.

*Saturday's game against Arkansas Little-Rock is a 1 p.m. tip and will be televised by Fox Sports Arizona.

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