Men's Hoops Starts Three-Game Road Trip at Stanford Saturday at 8 p.m. PT (FS1)
ROAD TRIP: The Sun Devil men's basketball squad (6-9; 2-3) hits the road for three as it first takes on Stanford on Sat., Jan. 22 (8 p.m. PT/FS1). ASU then plays a rescheduled Dec. 30 game at USC on Monday, Jan. 24 (8 p.m. PT/ESPN2) before heading to Tucson for a Sat., Jan. 29 tilt at Arizona (12:30 p.m./CBS). ASU is 7-4 vs. Stanford under Coach Hurley and has won the past three. ASU has split the past four at Maples and is 4-3 in its past seven with wins at Oregon, Grand Canyon, at Creighton and Utah.
TIMELINE ON PAUSES: Here is how the one-game in 27 days happened prior to last week's split with ASU losing to Colorado (Jan. 15) and then topping Utah (Jan. 17)...ASU fell to San Francisco 66-65 on Dec. 19 on three USF free throws in the final seconds...since then, ASU had played only one game prior to Jan. 15 Colorado 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...team broke for holiday break only to learn its Dec. 30 at USC and Jan. 1 at UCLA games were postponed due to protocols with both the Trojans and Bruins...so ASU scrambled and moved its Jan. 19 tilt 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 played Jan. 17). How weird is one game from Dec. 20-Jan. 14? Using 2016-17 as an example, ASU played seven games in that time frame.
JALEN SOLID PAST TWO: One good thing that came out of the Colorado Jan. 15 loss was the play of Jalen Graham, who had a career-high 16 points in just over 19 minutes, including 6-of-7 from the free throw line. He then had 12 points in just 14:23 in the win over Utah (foul trouble) including the game-winner with four seconds left. After averaging 4.8 points in his first 11 games and shooting 7-of-23 from the free throw line, he is averaging 14 points and is 8-of-10 from the charity stripe in the past two games. The Colorado (16 points) and Utah (12 points) were two of the top-six scoring ganmes in his career.
AT THE LINE: ASU's backcourt of Marreon Jackson (27-of-30), DJ Horne (16-of-16), Jay Heath (27-of-32) Luther Muhammad (13-of-16) and Jamiya Neal (7-of-10) are a combined 90-of-104 (.865) at the free throw line.
JAY HEATH: After missing the first two gamesl due to COVID protocols, Jay Heath averaged six points and was 5-of-20 from the field in his first three games. Since that time in the past nine games he is averaging 11.0 points with season-high 16 points vs. Loyola and San Francisco and 15 vs. Colorado.
CLOSE: Coach Hurley's Sun Devils have done a good job of winning close games, and it got one on Dec. 5 at Oregon (69-67), followed it up with a 67-62 win over 2021 WAC Champion Grand Canyon on Dec. 9, added a 58-57 win at Creighton on Dec. 14 and then a 64-62 win over Utah on Jan. 17. 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 15-6 in Pac-12 two-possession games the past three years and 21-10 overall.
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), at Pac-12 champion (Oregon), WAC champion (GCU) and at Creighton (Sweet 16).
GOOD DJ: DJ Horne hit a career-high six threes in the Nov. 24 Baylor game and is 38-of-94 (.404) from three and .411 (146-of-355) 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.
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 returned "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.
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 10.9 points and 7.3 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 .409 shooting...Alonzo Gaffney leads team with 20 blocks...Marreon Jackson's 56 assists is team best and he has played in 142 games and is 373-of-450 (.829) at the free throw line...Luther Muhammad started 54 games in his first two years at Ohio State before sitting last year at ASU with a shoulder injury.
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 entering this year a career .824 free throw shooter (346-of-420).
20: One can't take for granted what ASU did from 2017-20. 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 the COVID cut 2019-20 season, 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. 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.
EARLY: 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 played its sixth game on Nov. 25.
KIMANI: Kimani Lawrence 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. 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, including the game-winning three-pointer with the scored tied and 29 seconds left.
PAC-12 20/20 GAMES (1996-97 TO PRESENT)
Kimani Lawrence, ASU vs. Washington (Feb. 25, 2021) -- 21/20
Deandre Ayton, Arizona vs. Califxornia (Mar. 3, 2018) – 26/20
Noah Dickerson, UW vs. E. Washington (Nov. 12, 2017) – 28/22
Josh Hawkinson, WSU vs. Washington (Jan. 6, 2016) -- 21/20
Matt Maryasz, Stanford vs. Oregon (Jan. 20, 2005) – 20/20
Mike Batiste, ASU vs. Wagner (Nov. 19, 1997) – 36/20
Tim Young, Stanford vs. Oregon (Jan. 16, 1997) – 20/21
Todd MacCullouch, UW vs. UCLA (Jan. 31, 1999) – 26/21
Todd MacCullouch, UW vs. ASU (Jan. 8, 1998) – 30/21
Curtis Borchardt, Stanford vs. Arizona (Feb. 2, 2002) – 25/21
THAT COVID SEASON CUT SHORT HURT: Prior to its past two NCAA appearances (2018 and 2019) under Bobby Hurley, ASU had made the NCAA Tournament three times in 22 seasons (1996-2017), but the Sun Devils were on their way for third straight for the first time since the early 1960s when the world stopped in March of 2020. It was 9-4 since Jan. 18 in 2019-20 at season's 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 also had a seven-game Pac-12 win streak, ASU's first since the 1980-81 team won 11 straight.
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
ABOUT THAT GSR: Sun Devil Athletics has earned a new all-time high of 92 percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for its student-athletes, announced by the NCAA on Dec. 2. Sun Devil Athletics has either maintained or surpassed its all-time best GSR every year since 2008 and is tied for third in the Pac-12 Conference. The men's basketball team was one of 10 Sun Devil teams that posted GSR scores at 100 percent. Here are the Sun Devils who contributed to the perfect score.
MEN'S BASKETBALL DEGREES EARNED (2011-15 COHORT)
Zylan Cheatham, B.A., Liberal Studies (2019)
Tra Holder, B.S., Sociology (2018)
Shannon Evans II, B.S., Communication (2017)
Torian Graham, B.A., Liberal Studies (2017)
Kodi Justice, B.S., Sociology (2017)
Obinna Oleka, B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies (2017)
Maurice O'Field, B.S., Sociology (2017)
Eric Jacobsen, B.S., Communication (2016)
Gerry Blakes, B.S., Communication (2016)
Willie Atwood, B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies (2016)
Jon Gilling, B.A., Communications (2015)
Savon Lloyd-Goodman, B.S., Sociology (2015)
Sai Tummala, B.S., Biological Sciences, Animal Physiology and Behavior/Honors College (2015)
GETTING BUCKETS: ASU has averaged 77.3 ppg. in the previous four seasons, the best mark in the Pac-12 in that time. In the four years prior to Bobby Hurley's arrival at ASU, the Sun Devils averaged 69.5 points per game, seventh in the Pac-12.
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) last year. 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.
ASU VS. STANFORD UNDER COACH HURLEY (7-4)
ASU 79, STAN 75/Jan. 30, 2021
ASU 74, @STAN 69/Feb. 13, 2020
ASU 80, STAN 62/Feb. 20, 2019
@STAN 85, ASU 71/Jan. 12, 2019
STAN 84, ASU 83/Mar. 3, 2018
@STAN 86, ASU 77/Jan. 17, 2018
ASU 98, STAN 88/Mar. 8, 2017/Pac-12 at Las Vegas
ASU 75, STAN 69/Feb. 11, 2017
ASU 98, @STAN 93/Dec. 30, 2016
ASU 74, STAN 64/Mar. 3, 2016
@STAN 75, ASU 73/Jan. 23, 2016
CLOSE GAMES = WINS
ASU is 15-6 in two-possession Pac-12 games the past three seasons.