Men's Hoops Opens Saturday At 1 p.m. Vs. Arkansas-Little Rock

Nov. 20, 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 12 seasons, plays host to Arkansas-Little Rock (18-12 in 2002-2003) 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.

FRESHMEN STARTING NOTES: If a freshman starts vs. Arkansas-Little Rock it would mark only the third time that has happened in the opening game in the past 11 years at ASU, as Donnell Knight started the opener in 1999-2000 and Ike Diogu started the opener last season. Prior to Knight and Diogu, the last freshman to start a season opener at ASU was Ron Riley in 1992-93. If two freshmen start, it would mark the first time two Sun Devil freshman have started in the opening game in the past 13 seasons. The last time ASU had two freshman in the starting lineup on opening night was on Nov. 23, 1990, when Jamal Faulkner and Stevin Smith started against Kansas.

REGARDING EXHIBITIONS: ASU won both its exhibition games this year as Evans is now 10-2 in preseason games at ASU. ASU beat EA Sports SW All-Stars 80-65 on Nov. 12, as Associated Press Preseason All-American Ike Diogu did not play due to a right hip strain. ASU topped Ratiopharm ULM from Germany 94-74 on Nov. 17 behind Diogu's 28 points and 10 rebounds. At least 10 players saw double-digit minutes in both games.

REGARDING OPENING GAMES: ASU beat Morehead State 59-56 on Nov. 22, 2002, to win its 13th straight home opener. The last time ASU lost a home opener was on Dec. 5, 1989, when ASU fell to BYU 65-64. Rob Evans is 9-2 in overall season lid-lifters in his 11 seasons (4-1 at ASU), with the ASU loss a 69-67 defeat to Tulsa on Nov. 10, 2000, in North Carolina at the NABC Classic.

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.

AT WFA: ASU went 12-3 (.800) at home last year, including a 7-2 mark in the Pac-10. 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.

SERIES VS. FIRST THREE TEAMS: ASU 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: 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).

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