Men's Basketball Opens Regular Season Tonight Against Southern Utah

Nov. 23, 2005

TEMPE, Ariz. - SUN DEVIL DATA: The Arizona State University men's basketball team (18-14 in 2004-2005) returns six lettermen for the 2005-2006 season, as ASU will try and improve on last year's 18-win season, just the eighth in the past 22 seasons of Sun Devil basketball. ASU advanced to the postseason for the third time in the past four seasons under head coach Rob Evans and opens its regular season on Nov. 23 against Southern Utah.

OPENING THE SEASON: ASU beat Jackson State 79-48 on Nov. 21, 2004, to win its 15th straight home opener last season. The last time ASU lost a home opener was on Dec. 5, 1989, when ASU fell to BYU 65-64. Rob Evans is now 11-2 in overall season lid-lifters in his 13 seasons (6-1 at ASU), as ASU has won its past four season openers. ASU is 4-0 against this year's opening game opponent, Southern Utah, as ASU won 94-72 on Nov. 17, 2000, although Southern Utah went on to the NCAA Tournament that year. ASU then takes on Alcorn State on Sat., Nov. 28 at noon, its first meeting against the Braves. ASU will then take on the UCSB Gauchos (Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m.) and North Texas Mean Green (Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.) to complete a four-game in eight-days slate to start the season. ASU then takes on 2005 NCAA Tournament participant Minnesota on Dec. 5 at 8:30 p.m., as the Golden Gophers were 21-11 last year. The Nov. 28 UCSB game will be on Fox Sports Net Arizona while the Minnesota game is a Fox Sports Net broadcast.

AT WELLS FARGO ARENA: The Sun Devils are 42-21 (.667) in the past four seasons and are 75-42 (.641) under Evans in his seven years in Wells Fargo Arena. His 1999-2000 team went 14-3, matching the school record for home wins, while last year's team was 13-5.

JUNIOR COLLEGE HELP: Tony Jimenez, who covers junior colleges for Basketball Times, ranked ASU's incoming duo of Antwi Atuahene (Trinity Valley C.C.) and Bruno Claudino (College of Southern Idaho) as the tenth-best junior college recruits in the nation entering this year in the July of 2005 issue. His top ten included Oklahoma State, Texas A & M, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico, Oklahoma, UNLV, Utah State, UTEP and Nevada. Jimenez called Atuahene a 'solid team leader' and said Claudino 'is expected to add punch inside' for the Sun Devils, who will have Atuahene in uniform for three seasons.

NOT FAR AWAY: The Sun Devils, who tied Washington State for sixth in the Pac-10 at 7-11, lost several tough games down the stretch last year, including back-to-back games which were decided by game-winning shots in the closing seconds (57-55 at Washington State on Feb. 26 and 70-68 vs. #11 Arizona on March 5). ASU also lost a three-point game at the 1:00 mark at #13 Washington (a 90-82 loss on Feb. 24) and final close call was a 95-90 overtime loss in the Pac-10 Tournament to #14 Washington on March 10, as the Huskies ended the year as a No. 1 national seed and Pac-10 Tournament champions.

Kevin Kruger: Kevin Kruger was one of three Sun Devils who averaged double-digit scoring in Pac-10 play (11.8 ppg.) and had 17 double-digit scoring games in 2004-2005. He averaged 12.2 points in the final 13 games, has made 131-of-161 (.814) free throws in his 59-game career and was 66-of-74 (.892) from the foul line in Pac-10 games, second in the loop, last year. He matched a career-high with 22 points vs. #14 Washington at the Pac-10 Tournament on March 10. He has started 15 games in his career but was second on the team in minutes per game last year, averaging 29.8 minutes per game.

ANOTHER KRUEGER: Bryson Krueger, who played for assistant coach Brooks Thompson at Yavapai C.C. in 2003-2004, was 32-of-70 (.457) from the three-point stripe in his final 25 games. He had nine double-digit scoring games and posted his Pac-10 high with 21 points against Oregon State on Feb. 17, including five three-pointers. He ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in three-point percentage at .435 (40-of-92).

FREE THROWS: ASU made free throws at a 73.5 percent rate in 2003-2004, the fifth-best mark in ASU history and the second-best in the previous 17 seasons, and then came back with the tenth-best effort in school history last year. A look at the best free throw teams in ASU history.

ASU TOP SEASON FT%1.      75.6    - 19782.      75.4    - 19553.      74.6    - 1998                - 19875.      73.5    - 20046.      73.0    - 19577.      72.9    - 20008.      72.1    - 19899.      72.0    - 198210.     71.6    - 2005

Rob Evans: Rob Evans (194-184/.513) is in his eighth season at ASU (13th 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, winning two SEC West titles, and led Ole Miss to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1937-38. The 59-year old Evans is a 1968 graduate of New Mexico State, where he captained two NCAA Tournament teams and is a 1989 inductee of the Athletic Hall of Fame. He is 108-103 (.512) at ASU and has led the Sun Devils to four postseason appearances, including a 2003 NCAA appearance that was the school's first since 1995. He is 151-115 (.568) in the past nine seasons. He reached his 100th win at ASU against Long Island on Dec. 28, becoming just the third ASU coach to top the century mark, joining Ned Wulk (406-272 from 1957-82) and Bill Frieder (132-108 from 1989-97).

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