Men's Hoops Hosts Arizona on Saturday At 1:30 p.m.
Jan. 1, 2004
PAC-10 PLAY BEGINS: The Arizona State men's basketball team (6-3), coming off its first 20-win season since 1995 and just its second in the past dozen years, plays host to the fourth-ranked Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, Jan. 3, at 1:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Net in its Pac-10 opener. This season marks just the second time in Rob Evans' six years the Sun Devils start Pac-10 play at home, but both times have been against top-five opponents, as ASU lost to second-ranked Stanford on Jan. 4, 2000, to begin Pac-10 play. This year also marks the first time the Sun Devils and Wildcats have opened the Pac-10 season since Jan. 5, 1995, when 15th-ranked Arizona State topped ninth-ranked Arizona 53-52 in Tempe. Saturday's game is the first of three straight ASU tilts on Fox Sports Net, as Barry Tompkins and Dan Belluomini call the action. ASU plays the three teams that finished ahead of it in the Pac-10 standings last year (Arizona, Stanford and California) at home to start the Pac-10 season before it travels to Los Angeles to face UCLA (Jan. 15) and USC (Jan. 17). UA leads the series against ASU 130-73, with ASU's last win an 88-72 victory over the 10th-ranked Wildcats on Jan. 23, 2002, its biggest margin of victory vs. UA since 1982. Only two current Sun Devils (Jason Braxton and Kenny Crandall) played in that game.
STILL LIKING IKE: Ike Diogu is averaging 24.3 points per game and the Sun Devils are averaging 30.6 free throw attempts per game, including Diogu's 11.4 per contest. Diogu, ASU's first Associated Press Preseason All-American, is now 264-of-348 (.759) from the free throw line in his 41-game career. Including his career-high 38 points vs. McNeese State on Dec. 22, he now has 19 games of at least 20 points and has scored in double digits in all 41 contests. In his past 23 games (14 to finish last year and nine this year), he is averaging 21.6 points and 9.2 rebounds. Diogu's 38 points vs. McNeese State is the most by a Sun Devil since Eddie House had 40 vs. UCLA on Feb. 17, 2000, a span of the past 107 games. He has seven 20-point games on the year. Diogu also has nine career double-doubles (two this year) and eight other games with nine rebounds. He is 14-of-38 (.368) from the three-point stripe in his career. His 41 consecutive double-figure scoring games is the second-best active streak in the nation.
THE ROTATION: Three first-year Sun Devils are playing at least 20 minutes a game as seven newcomers are in the rotation, but it is now being adjusted as freshman Tron Smith, who had started six games, will likely be out until at least the first week of February with a broken nose suffered in practice after the holiday break. Smith was averaging 21.6 minutes. When Serge Angounou returns from injury in early January and Smith returns to the lineup, ASU will have eight newcomers in the rotation.
PROGRAM BUILDER: 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 68-31 (.686) after the rebuilding process.
QUICK NOTES: ASU is 17-4 (.810) at home in the past two seasons, 27-9 (.750) in the past three seasons and 60-30 (.667) under Rob Evans...ASU has held every opponent under 50 percent from the field this year...ASU hit 10 three-pointers against Nebraska for the first time since it hit 10 at Oregon on Dec. 20, 2001...Allen Morill has averaged 20 minutes in the five games against Nebraska, Temple, Northwestern, San Diego and Western Michigan but played just three minutes due to illness against McNeese State. He is 17-of-23 (.739) from the free throw line...Steve Moore had 20 second-half points at Nebraska on Dec. 3, including five three-pointers, the most by a Sun Devil since Chad Prewitt hit five at UCLA on Feb. 16, 2002...ASU is averaging 5.33 three-pointers made per game. It was last in the league last year at 4.09...ASU's top two scorers (Ike Diogu and Steve Moore) are shooting 116-of-143 (.811) from the free throw line...ASU went 46-45 (.505) in the three years prior to Jason Braxton joining the program and is 40-30 (.571) in the three years since...this year marks the first time ASU has returned its top scorer in the past four seasons. ASU is one of four Pac-10 teams that returns its top scorer, along with USC (Desmon Farmer/18.7), Washington St. (Marcus Moore/18.2) and Washington (Nate Robinson/13.0).
FRESHMEN: When Tron Smith and Keith Wooden started the season opener vs. Arkansas-Litte Rock, it marked the first time two Sun Devil freshmen had started an opener in the past 13 seasons. The last time ASU had two freshmen in the opening day lineup was Nov. 23, 1990 (Jamal Faulkner and Stevin Smith). It marked only the third and fourth time a freshman had started in the past 11 openers at ASU. Prior to Ike Diogu (2002-2003), Donnell Knight (1999-2000), Smith and Wooden, the last freshman to start an opener was Ron Riley in 1992-93.
IKE IN 2002-2003: Ike Diogu, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and the only freshman to earn All-Pac-10, averaged 19.9 points and 9.6 rebounds in the final 14 games last year. Diogu was the only player who ranked in the Pac-10's top five in scoring (19.0 ppg./third) and rebounding (7.8 rpg./fifth). The Garland, Texas, native set ASU freshman records for starts (32), points (607), field goals made (209), rebounds (249) and minutes (1,030) and set school records for free throws made (180) and attempted (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.
Rob Evans: Rob Evans (172-156/.524) 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 57-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 86-75 (.534) at ASU. Evans' Ole Miss squads were known as tough man-to-man teams which ranked 13th in the nation 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 129-87 (.597) in the past seven seasons.
PLAYER QUICK NOTES
#0 Allen Morill: Averaged 20 minutes in the five games against Nebraska, Temple, Northwestern, San Diego and Western Michigan but played just three minutes due to illness against McNeese State...seven points vs. Western Michigan on Dec. 20...six points and five boards at Northwestern on Dec. 17...posted eight points and eight boards vs. Temple on Dec. 9...17-of-23 (.739) from the free throw line...sophomore newcomer with a strong physical presence...one of three Texans on scholarship...good court awareness and tough to move near the basket...five boards in 16 minutes at Nebraska on Dec. 3...played nine minutes in season opener vs. Arkansas-Little Rock on Nov. 22.
#1 Jason Braxton: Has played in all 70 games in career and started in 54...averaging 30.6 minutes per game this year after averaging 21.5 his first two seasons...15 points and 10 assists vs. San Diego on Dec. 29...10 assists vs. San Diego was the most by a Sun Devil since Alton Mason had 12 vs. Southern Utah on Nov. 17, 2000...10 points, seven assists and six boards vs. Arkansas-Little Rock in season opener on Nov. 22...posted a career-high 17 points in NCAA loss to sixth-ranked Kansas on March 22, 2003.
#2 Keith Wooden: One of four Sun Devil freshmen to start the opening game of the season in the past 11 years, joining classmate Tron Smith (2003-04), Ike Diogu (2002-03) and Donnell Knight (1999-2000)...six points in 17 minutes vs. San Diego on Dec. 29...six points vs. McNeese State on Dec. 22...six points and six boards in 17 minutes in vs. UA-LR on Nov. 22.
#5 Ike Diogu: A 2004 Associated Press Preseason All-American, the first in Sun Devil history and just the 11th in Pac-10 history...seven 20-point games on the year...2003 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and an All-Pac-10 selection...has scored in double digits in all 41 career games...19 20-point games and nine career double-doubles...three 30-point games...Pac-10 Tournament record 18 rebounds vs. Oregon on March 13, 2003...26 points vs. both USC and UCLA on Feb. 13-15, 2003, and was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his efforts, just the third freshman to be named Pac-10 Player of the Week in the past six seasons.
#12 Kenny Crandall: Has made 33-of-38 (.868) of his free throws in Pac-10 games in his three-year career and is 53-of-69 (.768) overall...averaged 7.5 minutes in his final 13 games last year...played 20 minutes at top-ranked Arizona on Jan. 22, 2003, and made 4-of-7 three-pointers and had season-high 12 points...17-of-20 (.850) free throws last year...broke right fibula on April 17, 2002, in a dirt-bike accident and played through pain all of 2002-2003.
#13 Kevin Kruger: Increased his minutes in each of the first six games, beginning with one minute in the season opener and then playing 27 in the sixth game at Northwestern on Dec. 17...dependable and sturdy guard...played 27 minutes at Northwestern on Dec. 17 and had four assists...played 14 minutes, all in the second half, vs. Temple on Dec. 9 and had six points, two assists and zero turnovers...also had steal with under a minute to which led to game-winning shot...played 16 minutes in first four games.
#21 Stevie Moore: Explosive wing who scored 20 second-half points at Nebraska and led ASU with 22 points...two 20-point games...15 points and seven boards vs. Western Michigan on Dec. 30...16 points in 33 minutes on 6-of-8 shooting vs. UC Riverside on Nov. 29...14 points, nine boards and five assists in 30 minutes vs. Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 24...southpaw who posted 26 points in season opener vs. Arkansas-Little Rock on Nov. 22, the most points by a Sun Devil in a his debut since Isaac Burton had 28 vs. BYU on Nov. 27, 1993...went 10-of-10 from the free throw line vs. UA-LR.
#22 Jamal Hill: Double-digit scorer in four games in 2003-2004...18 points vs. San Diego on Dec. 29...both a starter (four games) and first player off the bench in 2002-2003...averaged 12.5 points on the 2003 Washington road trip and played 31 minutes without a turnover in the overtime win at Washington...30-of-40 (.750) from the free throw line in his career...posted 14 points against both Washington (Jan. 9) and Washington State (Jan. 11)...was in double figures in 10 games last year.
#23 Tron Smith: Freshman who has started six games and is averaging 21.6 minutes per game...out until at least the end of January with a broken nose...posted eight points vs. McNeese State (Dec. 22), vs. Temple (Dec. 9) and vs. Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 24)...also had five boards vs. Temple.
#24 Justin Allen: Had five points and six rebounds in nine minutes vs. San Diego on Dec. 29...six points on two second-half three-pointers at Northwestern on Dec. 17...posted five points, six boards and 19 minutes, the most he has played since he learned he had Hodgkin's Disease in fall of 2000, vs. Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 24...redshirted 2000-2001 season with Hodgkin's Disease...recipient of the 2003 V Foundation Comeback Award, given annually to someone in all of college basketball who embodies the spirit and courage of Jimmy Valvano...has played in 80 games in three-year career...played in 19 games last season.
#34 Wilfried Fameni: Posted 11 boards in 32 minutes at Nebraska on Dec. 3...yes, his first name is spelled with two 'i's', that is not a typo...became just the third Sun Devil freshman in the past 12 seasons to register a double-double with his 16-point, 13-rebound performance vs. UC Riverside on Nov. 29. Chad Prewitt posted one double-double in 1998-99 and Ike Diogu had seven last year...13 rebounds vs. UC Riverside is tied for the sixth-most by a freshman in ASU history...11 points vs. Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 24...opened year with 11 points and eight boards vs. Arkansas-Little Rock on Nov. 22 off the bench.
LEVER ASU'S CHOICE FOR 2004 PAC-10 HALL OF HONOR: Athletic Director Gene Smith and Rob Evans announced that the Sun Devil family will induct Lafayette 'Fat' Lever into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor in the spring of 2004. The Hall of Honor inducted its first class in March of 2002 at the Pac-10 Tournament Hall of Honor Banquet. Byron Scott was ASU's initial inductee while Ned Wulk was inducted on March 12, 2003. The Pac-10 Basketball Hall of Honor was created to recognize athletes and coaches who have made significant contributions to the tradition and heritage of the Pac-10 Conference. This year's banquet will be held on March 10, the night before the Pac-10 men's basketball tournament begins. Lever is a 1988 Arizona State Hall of Fame inductee who was a four-year letterman from 1978-82 who returned to school and finished his B.A. in Education in 1996. Included in his four years was the 1979-80 season as the Sun Devils finished 22-7, second in the Pac-10 at 15-3, with a national top-20 ranking in both wire service polls and an NCAA Tournament berth. In 1980-81, ASU went 24-4 and concluded the season with an upset-victory at undefeated, top-ranked and Pac-10 champion Oregon State. A three-year starter, Lever earned second-team Associated Press All-American honors in 1981-82. He earned All-Pac-10 accolades in 1980-81 and 1981-82 and led ASU in assists and steals for three straight seasons. His 1,137 points ranks 19th on the school's career scoring chart. The 11th overall pick in he 1982 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers Lever played with the Trail Blazers from 1982-84, was on the Denver Nuggets squad from 1984-90 and finished his career with the Dallas Mavericks from 1990-94.
OLD NOTES: ASU's 47 free throw attempts vs. Western Michigan on Dec. 30 and Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 24 is tied for the eighth-most in Sun Devil history and is the second-most in the past nine seasons. ASU attempted a school-record 57 vs. Utah last year in the Maui Invtational...Steve Moore's 26 points vs. Arkansas Little Rock on Nov. 22 is the most by a Sun Devil newcomer in the first game since junior college transfer Isaac Burton scored 28 on Nov. 27, 1993, in a 106-95 Sun Devil win over Brigham Young...Stevie Moore's 10-of-10 outing at the free throw line was the first time a Sun Devil had been perfect in at least 10 free throws in a game since Arthur Thomas was 13-of-13 on Dec. 4, 1987, against San Diego State.