Men's Hoops Hits Road to Face San Diego State Thursday at 7:30 p.m. PT on CBS Sports Network
NEW FACES, BUT NOT YOUNG: The 2021-22 Sun Devil men's basketball squad (2-1) starts a solid gauntlet of games at always good San Diego State on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Net before it travels to the Bad Boy Motors Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island (Bahamas) and faces defending NCAA champion Baylor in the first game on Wednesday, Nov. 24.
HITTING RESET: The Sun Devils have many new faces and a trio of solid returners -- like a lot of college basketball teams. Bobby Hurley is in his seventh year and returns "super" senior Kimani Lawrence (for a fifth year), sophomore Jalen Graham and sophomore Marcus Bagley. Luther Muhammad sat last year to get a shoulder healthy after transferring from Ohio State. The Sun Devils added graduate transfer Marreon Jackson (2020-21 MAC Player of the Year also in his fifth year of college hoops), along with DI transfers DJ Horne (Illinois State) and Jay Heath (Boston College) and added junior college transfer Alonzo Gaffney, who started his career at Ohio State. Add in freshman Jamiya Neal and Enoch Boakye and ASU started the season with a 10-man rotation, although only seven of them have played in the first three games.
HITTING THE ROAD: The men's basketball team has changed the attitude about non-conference road games in Bobby Hurley's six years with some big wins and hardly any losses. That will be put to the test again in 2021-22, as the Sun Devil non-conference schedule includes road trips to two places where it is tough to play but Coach Hurley's squads have won there already (San Diego State and Creighton). ASU is 8-2 in non-conference road games under Coach Hurley, as it was 8-22 in its previous 30 OOC road tilts.
BEST OOC ROAD RECORD IN BOBBY HURLEY ERA (2015-16 TO 2020-21)
Miami (Fla.), 8-1/.889
Arizona State, 8-2/.800
SUN DEVILS IN OOC ROAD GAMES UNDER BOBBY HURLEY (8-2)
ASU, 71, Grand Canyon 70 (Dec. 13, 2020)
ASU 71, San Francisco 67 (Dec. 3, 2019)
ASU 67, Princeton 65 (Nov. 26, 2019)
Vanderbilt 81, ASU 65 (Dec. 17, 2018)
#20 ASU 76, Georgia 74 (Dec. 15, 2018)
#16 ASU 95, #2 Kansas 85 (Dec. 10, 2017)
ASU 74, San Diego State 63 (Dec. 10, 2016)
ASU 66, UNLV 56 (Dec. 16, 2015)
#5 Kentucky 72, ASU 58 (Dec. 5, 2015)
ASU 79, Creighton 77 (Dec. 2, 2015)
EARLY START: College hoops has changed in the past 30 years. In Bobby Hurley's junior season in 1991-92, Duke's first game was Nov. 25. The 2021-22 season marks the 30-year anniversary of Coach Hurley earning 1992 Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors and ASU will play its sixth game on Nov. 25.
GOOD NOVEMBER: The Sun Devils have been good in November under Coach Hurley -- 20-4/.833 past five seasons -- as they have jumped out of the gates well. The program captured Las Vegas titles at the 2017 Continental Tire Invitational and at the 2018 MGM Resorts Main Event. It has posted wins vs. Rhode Island and St. John's in Connecticut, Utah State, Mississippi State, Xavier and Kansas State in Las Vegas, Tulane in Orlando and North Carolina State in Brooklyn.
MEET MARREON (SAY IT MAR (LIKE CAR) - REON): Toledo graduate transfer Marreon Jackson entered 2021-22 with 1,817 career points (14.3 ppg.)and 573 career assists. The 2020-21 MAC Player of the Year posted two triple doubles last season and made a school record 41 straight free throws to open the 2020-21 season. He has five 30-point games in career and in the final 10 games of 2020-21 he averaged 19.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists. He shot .904 from the free throw line in 2020-21, eighth-best in the nation as he was 103-of-114 and is a career .824 free throw shooter (346-of-420) at Toledo.
WILD STAT: Marreon Jackson averaged 18.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 2020-21 for Toledo. Since 2009-10, the only other two players to that are Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (2015-16) and Ohio State's Evan Turner (2009-10).
WILD STAT II FROM 2020-21: Marreon Jackson had two triple-doubles 18 days apart in the 2020-21 season. He 18 points, 10 boards and 11 assists vs. Miami of Ohio on Feb. 16 and then had 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists vs. Ball State on March 5. He also just missed another chance on Jan. 16 at Akron with 24 points, nine boards and 10 assists at Akron. How rare is two triple-doubles 18 days? ASU has had two...in its history.
THOSE FIVE WINS OVER OOC RANKED TEAMS: Bobby Hurley's ASU tenure has been marked by some great play in non-conference action during the regular season. His five wins over ranked out of conference teams entering 2021-22 tied for the league lead in his six years, and his 13 matchups also is the most in the league: Here is a breakdown of each team's record vs. OOC ranked teams entering 2021-22 (regular season) starting with 2015-16: Oregon (5-2), ASU (5-8), UCLA (4-8), Colorado (3-5), Arizona (3-6), Utah (2-5), Washington (2-8), USC (1-3), Washington State (1-3), Oregon State (0-1), California (0-5), Stanford (0-11).
LET'S GET THOSE PEOPLE BACK: Everyone knows 2019-20 and 2020-21 hit the Sun Devil program hard in terms of momentum. In addition to a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance getting canceled in 2020 -- which would have been a first for the program since the early 1960s -- the Sun Devils had turned the corner on attendance. Desert Financial Arena had averaged 10,140 fans in the previous three years starting with the 2017-18 season, with 496,872 fans attending 49 Sun Devil home games, as ASU racked up a 39-10 record. In the three previous seasons in 51 home games ASU averaged 6,087 fans (310,459).
WINNING CLOSE ONES: ASU won more 70 percent of its two-possession contests in the previous two years (third-best in the Pac-12). No one had been in more games of six points or less than ASU (24), and its 17-7 mark was behind only UCLA and Oregon.
PAC-12 TWO POSSESSION GAMES (2019-21)
UCLA, 18-6 (.750)
Oregon, 14-4 (.778)
Arizona State, 17-7 (.708)
USC, 9-6 (.600)
Oregon State, 13-11 (.542)
Washington State, 7-6 (.538)
California, 10-10 (.500) / Utah, 9-9 (.500) / Colorado, 8-8 (.500)
Arizona, 8-12 (.400)
Stanford, 5-10 (.333)
Washington, 5-16 (.238)
KIMANI: The final eight games last year and the first three this year have been really good for fifth-year Sun Devil Kimani Lawrence. In his past 11 games that started on Feb. 20, 2021, Kimani is averaging 14.2 points and 9.2 rebounds and is shooting 62-of-103 (.602) from the field. He had 21 points and 20 rebounds on Feb. 25, 2021, vs. Washington which was the first 20/20 outing by a Sun Devil since Nov. 19, 1997 (Mike Batiste gave Wagner 36/20) and the only 20/20 by a Sun Devil in a Pac-12 game. The 21 rebounds is second-most by a Sun Devil in a Pac-12 game. He also matched a career highs in points (22) in the Feb. 23 win over Washington. Also after going through a stretch where he made 25-of-51 (.490) free throws in 2019-20 and to start 2020-21 (38 games), he has made 41-of-59 (.694) in his past 18 games. Five of his top seven scoring games have come in the past 11 games. He posted double digits in 14 games in 2018-19 and his best game was 22-point effort vs. Mississippi State in Las Vegas on Nov. 19, 2018, which included the game-winning three-pointer with the scored tied and 29 seconds left.
JALEN: Jalen Graham went from Dec. 17 to Jan. 21 without playing (35 days) due to opponent COVID protocols (Incarnate Word/Utah), ASU COVID protocols (at UW/WSU) and then mononucleosis (UCLA/USC). His return was solid, as he had 10 points in 24 minutes vs. Arizona (Jan. 21) and then had his first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds (both career highs) at Arizona (Jan. 25). Graham started the season 7-of-20 (.350) from the free throw line in his first eight games, but finished 19-of-25 (.760) in his final 11.
GETTING BUCKETS: ASU has averaged 77.3 ppg. in the past four seasons, the best mark in the Pac-12 in that time. When he was hired he promised to pick up the pace. In the four years prior to his arrival at ASU, the Sun Devils averaged 69.5 points per game, seventh in the Pac-12.
PAC-12 PPG PAST FOUR SEASONS (2017-18 THROUGH 2020-21)
Arizona State, 77.3
Oregon State, 72.0
Washington State, 71.7
FINAL FOUR: Coach Hurley is one of three current head coaches who earned Final Four MOP, one of nine who won the NCAA title as a player, and is the only one to win it twice.
CURRENT HEAD COACHES TO WIN NCAA TITLE AS PLAYER
Steve Alford, Indiana (1987) — Nevada
Kenny Blakeney, Duke (1991) — Howard
Juan Dixon, Maryland (2002 MOP) — Coppin State
Patrick Ewing, Georgetown (1984 MOP) — Georgetown
Bobby Hurley, Duke (1991,1992 MOP) — Arizona State
Nate James, Duke (2001) — Austin Peay
Steve Masiello, Kentucky (1998) — Manhattan
Wes Miller, North Carolina (2005) — Cincinnati
Josh Pastner, Arizona (1997) — Georgia Tech
Mark Pope, Kentucky (1996) — BYU
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 did the previous three seasons. Coming off records in of 23-11 in 2018-19 and 20-12 in 2017-18, ASU notched its third straight 20-win season in 2019-20, 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.
GONNA' PLAY FOLKS: Bobby Hurley is going to play some folks as it has faced seven 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-10)
UNDER BOBBY HURLEY (7 IN SIX SEASONS)
#3 Villanova 83, ASU 74 (Nov. 26, 2020)
#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)
GOOD NOTE: ASU has defeated eight ranked teams in Bobby Hurley's six 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 WITH DEFICIT AT HALF
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
#16 ASU 95, at #2 Kansas 85 (Dec. 10, 2017)--Kansas 40, #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