Men's Hoops Travels To Face Washington State
Dec. 30, 2005
SUN DEVIL DATA: The Arizona State University men's basketball team (6-4/0-1) travels across the Evergreen state for a New Year's Eve matinee game against the Washington State Cougars (7-3/0-1) on Saturday, Dec. 31, at 3 p.m. PT/4 p.m. MST. Trey Bender and Tom Kuyper will call the game on Fox Sports Net Arizona. ASU, currently shooting .755 from the free throw line and .399 from the three-point stripe, advanced to the postseason for the third time in the past four seasons last year under Rob Evans last year as it finished 18-14 behind Pac-10 Player of the Year and consensus second-team All-American Ike Diogu. Junior Kevin Kruger is among the Pac-10 leaders in minutes per game (37.9), steals (2.1 pg), assists (4.5 pg), three-point field goals made per game (2.6) and scoring (15.3 ppg.).
VS. WASHINGTON: ASU was down just 40-38 at the half but a 10-0 run to start the second half was too much to overcome as the seventh-ranked Washington Huskies topped ASU 91-67 Thursday night in Seattle. Kevin Kruger led ASU with 18 points, but UW outscored ASU 51-29 in the second half as Brandon Roy had 35 points. ASU shot just 9-of-31 (.290) in the second half and UW was 16-of-28 (.571). UW had just three turnovers, the fewest by any Rob Evans' opponent in his 14 years as a head coach (388 games). UW missed its first 10 shots from the field and ASU led 9-2, but the Husky homecourt was too loud to overcome for ASU. Bryson Krueger added 13 points while Antwi Atuahene added 10 off the bench. Tyrone Jackson had six assists and Chad Goldstein had eight points in 21 minutes off the bench.
WASHINGTON STATE SERIES: ASU has won five of the past eight against the Cougars and 11 of the past 16...ASU leads the series 31-26 and Rob Evans is 9-5 against WSU, including a 4-3 mark in Pullman...ASU also is 5-1 in six overtime games against the Cougars...last year in Pullman, Chris Schlatter hit a three-pointer with 10 seconds left for the game winner after ASU forced a missed shot but could not get the rebound in a 57-55 loss on March 5. ASU had season-lows in points (55), first-half points (19), free throw attempts (nine) and assists (eight)...Kevin Kruger had 13 points in the Jan. 27 68-62 ASU win last year in Tempe, as ASU jumped out to a 33-23 halftime lead and led by as many as 13 in the second half. ASU tied a season high by making 81.8 percent of its free throws (18-of-22). The Sun Devils outrebounded the Cougars 37-23 and posted 20 assists on 22 made field goals. Bryson Krueger had 13 points, all of them in the second half, while Kevin Kruger had 12 of his 14 points in the first half.
NO EASY OPENERS: With Arizona winning the 2005 Pac-10 title, last year marked the fourth time in the previous six years that ASU opened the season with an eventual Pac-10 champion, as ASU faced the eventual Pac-10 champion three straight years in its Pac-10 opener from 2000-2002, facing Stanford in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 and then opening with Oregon in 2001-2002. ASU opened Pac-10 play this year at 2005 Pac-10 Tournament champion, undefeated and seventh-ranked Washington. This year also marked the sixth time in his eight years Rob Evans has opened Pac-10 play on the road, and the two home games were against top-five teams. ASU lost to second-ranked Stanford on Jan. 4, 2000, in Tempe, and to fourth-ranked Arizona 93-74 on Jan. 3, 2003.
BAD LUCK: ASU has been hit by the injury bug, as senior Allen Morill is now out for the year after having microfracture surgery on his left knee on Dec. 19. Morill had played in all seven games this year, starting in two, and averaged 15.7 minutes before his injury. He posted a career-high 14 points against Alcorn State on Nov. 26 and had 10 points and nine boards in 29 minutes vs. Minnesota on Dec. 5. Morill is the second-most experienced Sun Devil, as his 57 career games is second only to Kevin Kruger's 66, and leaves ASU with just one senior on the roster, Tyrone Jackson.
THAT IS NOT ALL: In addition to Morill's season-ending injury, other Sun Devils have missed games and practices. Serge Angounou, a two-year starter, suffered a bone bruise on his left knee in practice on Dec. 4 and missed the next two games (both losses) and is practicing on a limited basis to rest the knee for games. Freshman Jeff Pendergraph had a benign tumor removed in the fall from his left femur and did not get any conditioning or practice until November, as he missed both exhibitions and the first game of the season and is still working to get strength in the leg. Sophomore Antwi Atuahene has not missed a regular season game due to a nasal fracture suffered in November, but he missed the second exhibition game and some practices and has had to wear a mask the first 10 games to protect his nose. And while freshman Chad Goldstein could not play in the first six games after transferring last year from UC-Davis, it didn't stop him from catching the injury bug. He broke his nose in the fall and wore a mask in practice and in his first game at Iowa on Dec. 17. Two days later, in his first practice, his nose was broken again.
FREEBIES: 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 last year. Through nine games it is shooting 191-of-253 (.755). A look at the best free throw teams in ASU annals, and note that the current clip (.750) is currently third-best.
ASU TOP SEASON FREE THROW PERCENTAGE1. 75.6 - 1978 (.755 mark this year) 6. 73.0 - 19572. 75.4 - 1955 7. 72.9 - 20003t. 74.6 - 1998 8. 72.1 - 19893t. 74.6 - 1987 9. 72.0 - 19825. 73.5 - 2004 10. 71.6 - 2005
QUICK NOTES: ASU has committed fewer turnovers than its opponent in eight of its 10 games...ASU started 4-0 this year for the first time since 1994-95...Tyrone Jackson is averaging 27.4 minutes this year after averaging 15.1 minutes per contest last year...ASU tied the school record for three-point percentage by hitting 8-of-11 (.742) against North Texas, led by Bryson Krueger who was perfect in five attempts...ASU made 32-of-40 (.800) free throws against Alcorn State on Nov. 26, its most made free throws since it hit 35 in the season opener against Arkansas-Little Rock on Nov. 22, 2003...ASU made 24-of-27 (.880) free throws against Southern Utah, the sixth-best mark in school history with a minimum of 20 attempts...sophomore Craig Austin's 21 points vs. Southern Utah not only was a career-high, it was four more points than he scored all of last season. As a freshman the San Diego, Calif., native scored 17 points in 17 games last year...junior college transfer Antwi Atuahene is off to a solid start, as the sophomore is averaging 7.1 points, 3.5 boards and 3.1 assists in 21.4 minutes per game (fourth-most on the team). He is shooting 28-of-52 (.538) from the floor.
Rob Evans: Rob Evans (200-188/.515) 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 114-107 (.516) 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.
IRON MAN: It is probably too early to start looking at season records, but Kevin Kruger's 37.9 minutes per game is worth mentioning. Here's a look at ASU's top single-season minutes per game marks.ASU MINUTES PER GAME (1962-63 to present)RK. Player, Season MPG1. Stevin Smith, 1993-94 38.52. Fat Lever, 1981-82 38.23. Freddie Lewis, 1965-66 38.14. Kevin Kruger, 2005-06 37.95. Alex Austin, 1989-90 37.9