Men's Hoops Hosts Colorado Saturday as Ike Diogu No. 5 Goes Into Rafters
(NOTE: A PDF WILL BE POSTED FRIDAY MORNING)
WE GET TO PLAY: The Sun Devil men's basketball squad (5-8; 1-2) will play just its second game in 26 days -- and its first in 13 days -- when it hosts the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday, Jan. 15, at 8 p.m MT on ESPN2. Sun Devil Hall of Famer Ike Diogu will have his No. 5 jersey put in the rafters at halftime, as the Sun Devils will try and get back in the swing of things after a tough month.
TIMELINE: Here is how the one-game in 26 days has happened...ASU fell to San Francisco 66-65 on Dec. 19 on three USF free throws in the final seconds...since then, ASU has played only one game...on Dec. 21, ASU had its Florida A&M home game canceled due to campus power outage that affected Desert Financial Arena and other buildings...the team broke for the holiday break and came back after five days, only to learn its Dec. 30 game at USC and the Jan. 1 game at UCLA were postponed due to protocols with both the Trojans and Bruins...so ASU scrambled and moved its Wednesday, Jan. 19, California road game to Jan. 2...upon returning, ASU had to enter a pause due to COVID protocols, which meant it couldn't play a Jan. 5 game at UCLA (rescheduled from Jan. 1), its Jan. 8 Arizona game and its Jan. 13 Utah game (since moved to Monday, Jan. 17). How weird is one game from Dec. 20-Jan. 14? Using 2017-18 as an example, ASU played seven games in that time frame.
this weekend we celebrate a Sun Devil Legend ????
Ike Diogu's No. 5 jersey enters the rafters this Saturday when we host Colorado. pic.twitter.com/exwAOhgste
— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) January 14, 2022
ACTUAL HOOP STUFF: ASU is 3-2 in its past five with wins at Oregon, vs. Grand Canyon and at Creighton. Kimani Lawrence is among the Pac-12 leaders with six double-figure rebounding games and six double-doubles, freshman Enoch Boakye posted his best game of the year in the Jan. 2 loss at Cal with nine points and nine rebounds in 29 minutes and DJ Horne has yet to miss a free throw this season (16 straight).
CLOSE: Coach Hurley's Sun Devils have done a good job of winning close games, and it got one on Dec. 5 at Oregon with a 69-67 win, followed it up with a 67-62 win over 2021 WAC Champion Grand Canyon on Dec. 9 and then won 58-57 at Creighton on Dec. 14. ASU's first two losses were by three points total, losing on a 65-footer to UC Riverside (66-65 on Nov. 11) and a tough 65-63 game at San Diego State (Nov. 18) that had 10 lead changes and six ties. ASU is now 14-6 in Pac-12 two-possession games the past three years and 20-10 overall. ASU now has 18 wins in games decided by five points or less in that time, tied with Western Kentucky for the most in the nation heading into the holiday break.
SCHEDULE: By playing Baylor, Syracuse and Loyola in the Battle 4 Atlantis, ASU had a nine-game stretch where it faced seven 2021 NCAA Tournament teams (Washington State and San Francisco the other two). ASU played at last year's MWC champion (San Diego State), defending NCAA champ (Baylor), Syracuse (Sweet 16), Loyola (Sweet 16), Pac-12 champion (Oregon), WAC champion (GCU) and Creighton (Sweet 16).
AT THE LINE: ASU's backcourt of Marreon Jackson (26-of-28), DJ Horne (16-of-16), Jay Heath (22-of-26) Luther Muhammad (12-of-14) and Jamiya Neal (7-of-10) are a combined 83-of-94 (.883) at the free throw line.
GOOD DJ: DJ Horne hit a career-high six threes in the Nov. 24 Baylor game and is 34-of-83 (.410) from three and .413 (142-of-344) in his three-year career. He averaged 15.1 ppg. last year at Illinois State and is a .849 career free throw shooter (73-of-86). He sent the Dec. 5 Oregon game into overtime with a three-pointer with under four seconds left, a game in which he had season-high 23 points, six rebounds and three assists.
QUICK NOTES ON COACH HURLEY AT ASU: Posted third straight 20-win season in 2019-20 for just the third time in program history...top two average attendance marks in ASU history, including ASU-best 10,603 in 2017-18...2019-20 COVID-shortened season saw ASU (20-11) post its first seven-game Pac-12 win streak since the 1980-81 team won 11 straight...entered season with 28 halftime comebacks in his six years, tops in the Pac-12...11-7 in the Pac-12 in 2019-20 after going 12-6 in 2018-19, just the second time in the previous 25 seasons the Sun Devils posted back-to-back winning Pac-12 records...best two non-conference wins in school history vs. No. 1 Kansas on Dec. 22, 2018 and at No. 2 Kansas on Dec. 10, 2017...reached NCAA Tournament for just fourth time in 23 seasons in 2018 and then followed it with back-to-back appearances for the first time since 1980-81 in 2019...in November of 2017, defeated two eventual 2018 NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds in a span of a two weeks (Kansas and Xavier)...matched the highest Associated Press ranking in school history (third) in December of 2017.
THREE-DOT DATA: Kimani Lawrence is averaging 11.1 points and 7.8 rebounds with six double-doubles...Jay Heath and Jalen Graham each missed the first two games -- and many practices -- because of COVID protocols...ASU is holding opponents to .412 shooting...Alonzo Gaffney leads team with 19 blocks...Marreon Jackson's 52 assists is team best and he has played in 140 games and is 372-of-448 (.830) at the free throw line...freshman Enoch Boakye has 52 rebounds in just over 164 minutes (12.7 per game over 40 minutes)...Luther Muhammad started 54 games in his first two years at Ohio State before sitting last year at ASU with a shoulder injury.
RESET: The Sun Devils have many new faces and a trio of 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, junior 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 from Toledo (2020-21 MAC Player of the Year 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.
GOOD EARLY: The Sun Devils have been good in November under Coach Hurley. 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.
PEEPS IN SEATS: 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 -- ASU had turned the corner on attendance. Desert Financial Arena averaged 10,140 fans in the three years starting with 2017-18, with 496,872 fans attending 49 Sun Devil games, as ASU racked up a 39-10 record. In the three previous seasons in 51 games ASU averaged 6,087 fans (310,459).
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 entered this year a career .824 free throw shooter (346-of-420). He enters his 145th college game at UCLA on Jan. 5 with 1,916 career points.