Sun Devils Sweep Bruins For First Time in 23 Years

Feb 15, 2003

By Brian Gomez,

The Sun Devil men's basketball team needed only a little more than a minute Saturday afternoon to move one step closer toward making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1994-95 season.

Sparked by a 12-0 run over a 1:27 stretch midway through the second half, Arizona State cruised to an 85-69 victory against UCLA before a crowd of 9,242 at Wells Fargo Arena.

'For the first time in a long time we swept UCLA, and it just feels real good,' said freshman forward Ike Diogu, who marked four of his game-high 26 points during the scoring spree that helped the Sun Devils maintain their hold on fourth place in the Pac-10.

Diogu started the game-breaking stretch when ASU (17-7, 9-4 Pac-10) trailed 51-50 with 12:54 remaining by hitting a pair of free throws and by getting a bucket on a goaltending call by UCLA sophomore forward Andre Patterson. After the Sun Devils forced UCLA senior guard Ray Young into throwing the ball out of bounds, senior forward Tommy Smith converted an alley-oop on a high-arching lob pass from senior guard Kyle Dodd to give his team a five-point lead. The play was executed right after a timeout and worked to perfection.

ASU senior shooting guard Curtis Millage got a piece of the action with a pair of three-pointers from the wing, the first of which came on a possession that was kept alive when senior forward Shawn Redhage rebounded Smith's missed free throw.

By the time the Sun Devils were done, they had a 62-51 lead with 11:02 left.

'Arizona State is an NCAA Tournament team,' UCLA head coach Steve Lavin said. 'They've played consistently well.'

The Bruins (5-16, 2-10) cut the deficit to 64-56 with 10:15 to go on baskets by sophomore guard Ryan Walcott and senior forward Jason Kapono. But Dodd put the Sun Devils back on top by 11 points with a shot from beyond the arc over Walcott.

'They were just swarming Ike,' Dodd said. 'Different guys are stepping up, so I felt like I had to step up and shoot it with confidence.'

UCLA made another run with 8:21 left on the strength of back-to-back lay-ups by Kapono and sophomore forward T.J. Cummings. That's when Diogu took over.

Diogu was simply unstoppable against a team that used an array of triple teams to hold him to eight points in the first half. He converted a three-point play on a spin move in the low post, before making two free throws and putting back Redhage's missed lay-up.

Diogu then reverted to his newly developed spin move with a twist around UCLA freshman center Ryan Hollins in the low post on an entry pass from Dodd.

He put an exclamation point on the win with a slam dunk on another dish from Dodd.

'I've always been comfortable with the spin move and I try to use it at the right times,' Diogu said. 'I just go by how the defender is positioned on me. If I feel like I can use it, then I go to it, but if I feel like the defender is playing that, I'll go to something else.'

Four players scored in double figures for ASU, which trailed by as many as six points in the first half and was down 39-35 at intermission after Walcott stole a pass from Dodd and buried a trey at the buzzer.

Millage finished with 16 points thanks to a 4-for-8 effort from three-point range and a 6-for-6 outing at the charity stripe. Smith had a game-high-tying three blocks, a game-high eight rebounds and 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field in 33 minutes. Dodd tallied a game-high eight assists and he also had 14 points, one shy of his career high, which he set againstCharlotte as a freshman.

'On Thursday, we came out and hit USC in the mouth quick, and in the end, we survived,' said Sun Devil head coach Rob Evans, whose team shot 49.2 percent (29-for-59) from the field, 50 percent (7-for-14) from three-point range and 90.9 percent (20-for-22) at the free-throw line. 'Tonight, we kept playing even though we were down for a while, but the guys picked each other up, and the seniors really played like seniors. There will be games where you don't play as well as you can, but you still have to play the game.'

Kapono was the only Bruin to score in double figures. He finished with a team-high 21 points on 9-of-19 shooting in 36 minutes.

GAME NOTES: UCLA leads the all-time series 47-13...ASU has won four of the past seven meetings between the schools...the Sun Devils swept the season series with UCLA for the first time since the 1979-1980 campaign...ASU emerged victorious in four straight conference games for just the second time in the past eight years and for the first time since February 2000...the Sun Devils triumphed for only the fifth time in the past 33 games when they trailed at the half...ASU, which won the battle on the boards 32-24, has outrebounded its opponents in 10 of the last 11 games...the Sun Devils are shooting 74.5 percent (155-for-208) from the charity stripe in the past eight games...Millage is 34-for-41 (82.9 percent) from the line during that same span...Smith has a Pac-10-leading 58 blocks on the season...before the game, Evans presented Dr. Wally Fisher with a basketball signed by the entire team and a framed photofor his monetary contributions to ASU's athletic department.

UP NEXT: The Sun Devils are scheduled to return to action at 7 p.m. MST when they host No. 1-ranked Arizona at Wells Fargo Arena. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona.

STANDING ROOM ONLY SEATS AVAILABLE: Three-hundred standing-room-only tickets for Saturday's game will go on sale at 9 a.m. MST Tuesday. They may be purchased only by calling the Sun Devil Ticket Office at (480) 965-2381. Tickets are $25 apiece and there is a limit of four per household.

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