Men's Hoops Opens Exhibition Season Wednesday

Nov. 11, 2003

ASU COMING OFF 20-WIN SEASON: The Arizona State men's basketball team (20-12; 11-7 and fourth in the Pac-10 in 2002-2003), coming off its first 20-win season since 1995 and just its second in the past 13 seasons, opens its exhibition season on Wed., Nov. 12, against the EA Sports Southwest All-Stars and then takes on Basketball Travelers on Mon., Nov. 17. ASU plays host to Arkansas Little Rock on Sat., Nov. 22, at 1 p.m. to tip the regular season. The Sun Devils will play three home games in eight days before a Dec. 3 game at Nebraska and a Dec. 9 game vs. Temple at Phoenix's America West Arena.

ASU advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995 last year, the second time in the past 12 seasons and for the third time in 22 seasons last year. ASU advanced to the West Region and topped No. 19 Memphis 84-71 in Oklahoma City on March 20 before falling to sixth-ranked and second-seeded Kansas 108-76 on March 22.

REGARDING EXHIBITIONS: ASU won both its exhibition games last 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.

REGARDING OPENING GAMES: ASU beat Morehead State 59-56 on Nov. 22, 2003, to win its 13th straight home opener. Rob Evans is now 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.

AT WELLS FARGO ARENA: ASU went 12-3 (.800) at home last year, including a 7-2 mark in the Pac-10 Conference. The Sun Devils are 22-8 (.733) in the past two seasons and are 55-29 (.655) under Evans in his six years in Wells Fargo Arena.

PATIENCE: When Rob Evans arrived at ASU in the spring of 1998, many talked about his final two years at Ole Miss when he went 42-16 (.724) and won two SEC West titles with a program that had been to just one NCAA Tournament. Before those two seasons, Evans took a program many called 'below ground' and had a 44-65 (.403) mark in his first four seasons. At ASU, Evans was 60-60 in his first four years before the 20-12 (.625) record last year. Overall, Evans is 104-125 (.454) in his first four years of building a program and is now 62-28 (.689) after the rebuilding process.

SERIES VS. FIRST THREE TEAMS: Arizona State has never played Arkansas-Little Rock. It is 1-0 against Cal State Fullerton, an 87-83 home win in the 1983 NIT. The Sun Devils are 2-0 against UC Riverside with a 73-64 win under Rob Evans on Nov. 27, 2001. It also beat UCR 96-87 on Dec. 4, 1971 in Tempe.

TOP SCORER RETURNING: The return of Ike Diogu (19.0 ppg.) this year marks the first time ASU has returned its top scorer since 1999-2000, when Eddie House returned after averaging 18.9 points in 1998-99. House averaged a Pac-10 leading 23.0 points per game en route to conference Player of the Year honors. ASU is one of four Pac-10 teams who return its top scorer, along with USC (Desmon Farmer/18.7), Washington State (Marcus Moore/18.2) and Washington (Nate Robinson/13.0).

Ike Diogu: Ike Diogu, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and the only freshman to earn All-Pac-10 honors, averaged 19.9 points and 9.6 rebounds in the final 14 games and had 12 20-point games. Diogu was the only player who ranked in the Pac-10's top five in scoring and rebounding as he finished third in scoring (19.0 ppg.) and fifth in rebounding (7.8 rpg.).

The Garland, Texas, native set ASU freshman records for starts (32), points (607), field goals made (209), rebounds (249) and minutes (1,030). He set school records for free throws made (180) and attempted (245) and his 18 rebounds vs. Oregon in the Pac-10 Tournament set the ASU freshman single-game mark and is a Pac-10 Tournament record. Diogu's 245 free throw attempts (7.66 per game) broke the ASU record of 234 (7.09 per game) set by Mario Bennett in 1994-95.

Diogu earned Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America honors and was selected to the five-man Freshman All-America teams by both Sporting News and Basektball Times. He was one of just two freshmen (Carmelo Anthony was the other) to receive Associated Press All-America votes.

Diogu led the team at 19.0 points and 7.8 rebounds on the year and went to the free throw line a Pac-10-leading 245 times and shot .735 percent (180-of-245). He shot 60.8 percent from the field (209-of-344), tied for first in the Pac-10, and finished at 63.8 percent (120-of-188) in the 18 Pac-10 games, first in the league. Diogu's 60.8 percent field goal shooting was the eighth-best mark in the nation.

ABOUT THE FREE THROWS: ASU's 561 free throws made and 832 attempts last year was the most since the 1960-61 team was 602-for-875. Also, ASU's free throw attempts margin of 158 against its opponents (opponents were 467-of-674) was the best in school history, topping the 1960-61 margin of 111. ASU's 94 more free throws made is the second-best in school history to the 1960-61 team's 116 (602 to 486).

Rob Evans: Rob Evans (166-153/.520) is in his sixth season at Arizona State (12th 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, 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 Athletic Hall of Fame and was named to the school's All-Time team. He is 80-72 (.526) 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. 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 122-86 (.587) in the past seven seasons.

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