Men's Hoops Heads to Tucson for CBS 12:30 p.m. Tip on Saturday
TOUGH STRETCH: The Sun Devil men's basketball squad (6-11; 2-5) plays its second of five straight games against ranked teams when it travels to Tucson to take on No. 3 Arizona on Saturday, Jan. 29 (12:30 p.m./CBS). The teams have split the past six, with Arizona sweeping last year, ASU sweeping in 2019-20 and the teams splitting in 2018-19. Jalen Graham in the first 60 games of his career averaged 5.2 points, but in the past four he is at 14.8. No Pac-12 team has played five straight games against ranked teams since 2001-02 season when ASU played six straight.
LAST TIME OUT AT #16 USC (JAN. 24): ASU was down to seven scholarship players (missing Kimani Lawrence and Jay Heath), battled USC early and led 22-10 with under eight minutes to go in the first half, but it ran out of bench minutes in a 78-56 loss on Monday. USC's bench outscored ASU's bench 36-8 and the Trojans outrebounded ASU 49-24. The Sun Devils shot .344 (22-of-64) which including .286 (10-of-35) in the first half. Marreon Jackson had a season-high 21 points, while Jalen Graham added 15 points and seven rebounds. DJ Horne added 14, as only Luther Muhammad was the only other Sun Devil to score (six points). ASU had nine steals - but no fast break points - and led for first 14:45 before USC came on strong late.
AT STANFORD (JAN. 22): ASU and Stanford had 10 lead changes and eight ties in a 79-76 Sun Devil loss on Jan. 22 as ASU shot .525 (31-of-59), its highest percentage in a loss under Coach Hurley. ASU was 17-of-27 (.630) in the second half and came back from down 15 five minutes into the second half to take the lead, but could not overcome a free throw attempts differential of 32, as Stanford was 32-of-41 from the line and ASU was 7-of-9, including a first half where the Cardinal shot 13-of-17 while ASU made its only attempt. ASU had two players foul out and had four others with four fouls as it was whistled for a season-high 29 fouls. Jalen Graham matched his career-high with 16 points while DJ Horne led the Sun Devils with 18. ASU held Stanford to .380 (39-of-50) and its bench outscored the Cardinal bench 36-23. It marked the first time in college hoops since April 1, 2016, that a team had 12 more field goals than its opponent and lost the game.
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 15-7 in Pac-12 two-possession games the past three years and 21-11 overall.
JALEN SOLID PAST FOUR: 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 Jan. 17 win over Utah (foul trouble) including the game-winner with four seconds left. On Jan. 22 at Stanford he was 8-of-13 from the floor and again had 16 points and tied the game at 76 with under seven seconds left. After averaging 4.8 points in his first 11 games this year (and 5.2 points in first 60 games of career) he is averaging 14.8 points in the past four games. The USC (15 points), Stanford (16 points), Colorado (16 points) and Utah (12 points) games are four of the top eight scoring games in his career. In the first 60 games of his career, he averaged 5.2 points, but in the past four he is at 14.8.
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.
WEIRD NOTE FROM STANFORD: ASU had 12 more made field goals at Stanford on Jan. 22, but lost the game. How freakin' weird is that? That is the first time that has happened since April 1, 2016, when Morehead State had 14 more made field goals in an 85-82 loss at Nevada in overtime. The last time it happened in a regulation game was when East Tennessee State had 12 more made field goals than Tennessee Tech on Dec. 2, 2015.
FT LINE: ASU's backcourt of Marreon Jackson (31-of-34), DJ Horne (19-of-19), Jay Heath (27-of-32) Luther Muhammad (15-of-19) and Jamiya Neal (7-of-10) are a combined 99-of-114 (.868) at the free throw line.
JAY HEATH: After missing the first two games 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 his past 10 games he is averaging 11.0 points with season-high 16 points vs. Loyola and San Francisco and 15 vs. Colorado.
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).
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.
DJ: DJ Horne hit a career-high six threes on Nov. 24 vs. Baylor and is .409 (153-of-374) in his three-year career. He averaged 15.1 ppg. last year at Illinois State and is a .854 career free throw shooter (76-of-89). He sent the Dec. 5 Oregon game into overtime with a three with under four seconds left, as he had season-high 23 points, six rebounds and three assists.
GOOD EARLY: Coach Hurley's Sun Devils have been good in November. 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...9-3 in out of conference regular season road games, second-best in nation.
THREE DOTS: Kimani Lawrence is averaging 10.6 points and 7.1 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 .410 shooting...Alonzo Gaffney leads team with 27 blocks...Marreon Jackson's 60 assists is team best and he has played in 144 games and is 377-of-454 (.830) 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 (2018-19) and 20-12 in 2017-18, ASU notched its third straight 20-win season in the COVID cut 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. 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.
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
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, 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 a seven-game Pac-12 win streak, a 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 10 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
GOOD NOTE: ASU has defeated eight ranked teams in Bobby Hurley's seven 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 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
ASU 67, #18 Texas A&M 54 (Dec. 5, 2015)
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.
DOWN GOES RANKED TEAM: ASU has defeated eight ranked teams in Bobby Hurley's Sun Devil tenure, including five out of conference. The Nov. 24, 2017, win over No. 15 Xavier was the highest ranked non-conference team ASU had topped since it beat No. 7 Maryland in the 1994 Maui Invitational...until it won at #2 Kansas on Dec. 10 two weeks later...until it beat #1 Kansas on Dec. 22, 2018. Prior to Coach Hurley's five OOC wins vs. ranked teams in his first five seasons, ASU's had six in the previous 37 seasons.
GONNA' PLAY FOLKS: Bobby Hurley is going to play some folks as it has faced eight 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.