Men's Hoops Tips Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET vs. Rhode Island
THE 2020-21 LID LIFTER IS HERE: The No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devil men's hoops team opens its season Wednesday (Nov. 25) in the Empire Classic at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT against Rhode Island at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. ASU (20-11 last year), the highest scoring squad in the Pac-12 over the past three seasons (78.1 ppg.) has posted three straight 20-win seasons under sixth-year head coach Bobby Hurley and has shown toughness (Pac-12 best 16-5 after a loss the past two seasons and 26 halftime comeback wins under Coach Hurley is best mark in the Pac-12 in his tenure). It is coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 1980-81 and the only Pac-12 team to make the NCAAs the past two chances. It was on the doorstep of three straight for the first time since the early 1960s prior to the cancellation of the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals and the NCAA Tournament last spring. ASU led the league in overall games in steals (249 for 8.03 pg), turnover margin (+3.19) and turnovers forced (16.42 pg).
NCAA NOTE: ASU had been to four NCAA Tournaments (1995, 2003, 2009 and 2014) in 26 seasons (1992-2017) and had not been back-to-back since 1980-81. Seniors Remy Martin and Kimani Lawrence went to the Dance in each of their first two seasons and were on their way to a third straight last year.
ABOUT THAT RANKING: The Sun Devils are ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press preseason poll, marking just the second time in past 29 seasons and fifth overall for the program to be ranked before the season tips. It was preseason No. 15 in 2008-09, James Harden's sophomore and final season, as it never fell out of the rankings en route to a 24-9 record.
AP PRESEASON AA: Remy Martin has earned Associated Press Preseason All-America honors, just the second Sun Devil to earn the honor joining Ike Diogu (2003-04). Remy becomes just the fourth Pac-12 player to earn the honor in the past dozen seasons. He is joined on the team by Luke Garza (Iowa), Jared Butler (Baylor), Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State), Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois) and Corey Kispert (Gonzaga).
VERGE SURGE: Alonzo Verge Jr., who earned 2020 Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year, averaged 16.8 points per game off the bench (19 games) last year which led the nation. After averaging 6.2 points, going 1-of-9 from the three-point stripe and shooting 11-of-45 (.244) from the field in his first five Pac-12 games, Verge after that five-game span averaged 17.3 points, was 87-of-176 (.494) from the field and 37-of-52 (.712) from the foul line in the final 13 games. In ASU's seven-game win streak he averaged 20.6 ppg., was 53-of-100 (.530) from the field, 7-of-18 (.389) from three and 31-of-43 (.721) from the free throw line.
MICKEY D NEWS: How big is it that freshman Josh Christopher is a McDonald's All-American? He is just the sixth Sun Devil to earn the honor, and the first since James Harden in 2007. Josh will be one of just three 2020 McDonald All-Americans in the Pac-12 this year, joining Evan Mobley of USC and Ziaire Williams of Stanford.
SUN DEVIL McDONALD ALL-AMERICANS
Josh Christopher, 2020
James Harden, 2007
Eric Boateng, 2005 (transferred from Duke)
Jamal Faulkner, 1989
Chris Sandle, 1984
Byron Scott, 1979
NOVEMBER HAS BEEN GOOD: The Sun Devils are 16-2 (.889)in November the past three seasons (AKA the Remy Martin era), the second-best mark in the Pac-12 (Colorado leads at 16-1/.943) and tied for 11th in the nation. The wins include six away from home and five over eventual NCAA Tournament teams, including 2019 NCAA Tournament teams Utah State and Missisisppi State in November of 2018, 2018 No. 1 seed Xavier, eventual 2018 Elite Eight bound Kansas State and always good San Diego State.
SOLID DUBS: Bobby Hurley has led ASU to a 47-16 regular season OOC record in his five years. notable wins: NC State, at Creighton, Texas A&M, UNLV (2x), Stephen F. Austin, Kansas State, Xavier, St. John's (2x plus NCAA Tournament win), Kansas (2x), Vanderbilt and Georgia (2x).
THIS IS US: ASU has 26 wins (11 on the road) when trailing at the half under Bobby Hurley in five seasons, after going 12-64 (.157) the previous five seasons. It did it seven times in 2017-18 and did it in 2018-19 at Georgia, vs. No. 1 Kansas, at California, at UCLA, vs. Cal and at Oregon State. In 2019-20 it had halftime comeback wins over St. John's in Connecticut, at Princeton, vs. No. 22 Arizona, vs. USC and vs. Oregon State. ASU trailed Arizona 37-15 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half before closing the gap to 43-30 at the half and then scored the first 10 points of second half. The 22-point comeback matches what is believed to the biggest in Pac-12 history. On Feb. 8 ASU trailed USC by 13 with 5:34 left in the first half before cutting the gap to 40-32 at the half and then winning 66-64 despite leading for just 5:57 of the game.
ROAD REMY: AP Preseason All-American Remy Martin, who earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors last season, averaged 22.6 ppg. and had eight 20-point games in ASU's 11 true road contests (6-5) last year. He led the team in his sophomore year in road scoring at 15.0 ppg and in his freshman season was 11-of-23 (.478) from three and 24-of-29 (.828) from free throw line in road games. Solid stat: He has posted 10 games of 24+ points in his career, seven of them have been on the road. Other solid note on Remy is his progression: Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year in freshman season, All-Pac-12 Second-Team in 2018-19 and first-team honors in 2019-20.
20: While the creation of exempt tournaments and more games has given teams a better chance to reach 20 wins, we won't take for granted what ASU has done. Coming off records in of 23-11 in 2018-19 and 20-12 in 2017-18, ASU notched its third straight 20-win season last year, something it had done just twice. In James Harden's two seasons ASU went 21-13 (2007-08) and 25-10 (2008-09) and then went 22-11 in 2009-10. You have to go back to 1960-63 for the only other time in ASU history for it to happen, as ASU went 23-6 in 1960-61, 23-4 in 1961-62 and 26-3 in 1962-63, led by another Olympic gold medalist, Jumpin' Joe Caldwell.
SUN DEVIL FRESHMAN BLOCKS (1978-79 TO PRESENT)
55, Mario Bennett, 1991-92
33, Jamal Faulkner, 1990-91
31, Ike Diogu, 2002-03
29, Jalen Graham, 2019-20
REMY: Remy Martin became the 38th member of the ASU 1,000-point club on Jan. 11, 2020. He now has 1,314 career points (95 games/13.8 pg) and had 18 20-point games last year. He posted seven straight - averaging 24.3 points - before posting 15 at WSU on Jan. 29. The seven matched the best by a Sun Devil since Eddie House had eight in 1999-2000. Remy averaged 19.1 ppg last after averaging 11.3 in his first two years.
SUN DEVIL CAREER SCORING CHART UPDATE
15. 1,330 – Ty Abbott, '07-11
16. 1,329 – Alex Austin, '86-90
17. 1,314 – Remy Martin, '17-present
GONNA' PLAY FOLKS: Bobby Hurley is going to play some folks as it has faced six non-conference top-10 opponents at ASU, after ASU faced one in the previous 17 seasons.. In his first year after looking at a schedule he inherited that included tilts against NC State in Brooklyn, at Creighton, at UNLV and against eventual No. 18 Texas A&M, he put the wheels in motion to play at Kentucky and filled a holiday break hole that could have been a yawner with Stephen F. Austin. In 2016-17, the squad played No. 1 Kentucky in the Bahamas, Purdue in New York City, at San Diego State, and finished a series with No. 9 Creighton. Kansas returned a trip to Tempe in December of 2018 after ASU's win on Dec. 10, 2017.
ASU REGULAR SEASON OOC GAMES VS. TOP-10 TEAMS (SINCE JOINING PAC-12) UNDER BOBBY HURLEY (6 IN SIXTH SEASON)
#7 Virginia 48, ASU 45 (Nov. 24, 2019)
#18 ASU 80, #1 Kansas 76 (Dec. 22, 2018)
#16 ASU 95 @#2 Kansas 85 (Dec. 10, 2017)
#9 Creighton 96, ASU 85 (Dec. 20, 2016)
#1 Kentucky 115, ASU 69 (Nov. 28, 2016 at Bahamas)
@#5 Kentucky 72, ASU 58 (Dec. 12, 2015)
PRIOR TO BOBBY HURLEY (8 IN 37 SEASONS)
#7 Duke 64, ASU 53 (Nov. 25, 2009 at MSG)
#2 Kansas 90, ASU 88, OT (Nov. 26, 1997 at MSG)
ASU 97, #7 Maryland 90 (November 23, 1994 at Maui)
@#8 Oklahoma St. 87, ASU 69 (December 2, 1993)
@#9 Kentucky 94, ASU 68 (December 14, 1991)
@#2 Kansas 90, ASU 67 (December 22, 1989)
#10 North Carolina 85, ASU 66 (December 23, 1984 at Tokyo)
#6 Missouri 48, ASU 47 (December 27, 1982 at Honolulu)
QUICK STATS: Prior to its past two NCAA appearances under Bobby Hurley, ASU had made the NCAA Tournament three times in previous 22 seasons (1996-2017), but the Sun Devils made a run at a third straight for the first time since the early 1960s as it was 9-4 since Jan. 18 last year at season'e end, with two of the losses (75-72 at UCLA Feb. 27 and 67-65 at WSU on Jan. 29) decided by three-pointers in the final seconds. ASU had its seven-game Pac-12 win streak -- an ASU first since the 1980-81 team won 11 straight -- ended in the 75-72 great tilt at UCLA on Feb. 27. ASU has been a resilient bunch recently: they are 16-5 (.762) in the past two seasons after a loss, the best mark in the Pac-12.
GOOD NOTE: ASU has defeated eight ranked teams in Bobby Hurley's five seasons, but it trailed at the half in five of the wins, including both wins over Kansas.
ASU WINS VS. RANKED TEAMS UNDER BOBBY HURLEY (ASU DEFICIT AT HALF)
ASU 77, #14 Oregon 72 (Feb. 20, 2020)
ASU 66, #22 Arizona 65 (Jan. 25, 2020)--Arizona 43, ASU 30
#18 ASU 80, #1 Kansas 76 (Dec. 22, 2018)--Kansas 39, #18 ASU 31
ASU 72, #15 Mississippi State 67 (Nov. 19, 2018/Las Vegas)
#16 ASU 95, at #2 Kansas 85 (Dec. 10, 2017)--Kansas 4 0, #16 ASU 37
ASU 102, #15 Xavier 86 (Nov. 24, 2017/Las Vegas)-- Xavier 46, ASU 44
ASU 74, #23 USC 67 (Feb. 12, 2016)-- USC 30, ASU 27
ASU 67, #18 Texas A&M 54 (Dec. 5, 2015)
ALONZO VERGE TOP SCORING GAMES (12-3 WHEN HE SCORES 13/6-1 WHEN SCORES 20)
43 vs. St. Mary's (12/18/19)
26 vs. #14 Oregon (2/20/20)
26 vs. UCLA (2/6/20)
23 vs. Texas Southern (12/28/19)
22 at California (2/16/20)
20 vs. Washington State (3/7/20)
20 vs. Prairie View A&M (12/11/19)
19 vs. Washington (3/5/20)
19 at Stanford (2/13/20)
19 vs. Creighton (12/21/19)
18 at Washington (2/1/20)
17 vs. Oregon State (2/22/20)
16 vs. USC (2/8/20)
15 vs. Georgia (12/14/19)
13 vs. Arizona (1/25/20)
MOST POINTS IN SUN DEVIL HISTORY
61-Eddie House at California (2 OT), Jan. 8, 2000
46-Eddie House vs. San Diego State, Dec. 18, 1999
45-Paul Williams at USC, Mar. 10, 1983
43-Alonzo Verge Jr. vs. Saint Mary's, Dec. 18, 2019
KIMANI NOTES: Long-armed and mobile swingman guards multiple positions...good mid-range jumper and helps in any and all rebounding and defensive categories...posted double digits in 14 games in 2018-19 and team was 5-0 when he scored 15...best game was 22-point effort vs. Mississippi State in Las Vegas on Nov. 19, which included the game-winning three-pointer with the scored tied and 29 seconds left...had 10 points in 2019-20 opener vs. Colorado in China...had 11 off the bench vs. Georgia on Dec. 14, 2019.
GET TO KNOW HOLLAND WOODS: We weren't sure Holland Woods would play this year after transferring from Portland State with just one year to play, but when the NCAA allowed this year to be a "free" year, the first team All-Big Sky Conference guard has now entered the rotation. He averaged 17.7 points to rank fifth in the Big Sky, along wiht 5.2 assists (second) and 2.1 steals (first). He shot .842 from the free throw line and led team in scoring 14 times and assists 25 times. He posted 13 20-point games and dropped 30 twice.