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NCAA First Four Game Notes: Arizona State in back-to-back tournaments, takes on St. John’s

GAME NOTES WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF ARIZONA STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

 

 

THIS IS MARCH: The Arizona State Sun Devils (22-10; 12-6) — who advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014 last year and just the fourth time in 24 seasons — decided to do it again this year and will meet St. John’s in Dayton on Wednesday, March 20, at 9:10 p.m. ET on TruTV with Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Jim Jackson and Ros Gold-Onwude calling the action. The Sun Devils had an 11-6 mark in Quad 1 & 2 games, including Quad 1 wins over Kansas in Tempe and in Las Vegas against Mountain West Tournament champ Utah State and Mississippi State. ASU won five games against NCAA Tournament teams, also topping Oregon and Washington in Tempe.

THE MONEY NOTE: Four seasons after Bobby Hurley arrived in Tempe, ASU has removed itself from a long-standing chart. ASU had the fifth-longest active streak of a NCAA Tournament back-to-back drought, as it had not made March Madness in back to back years since 1980-81, when Byron Scott, Fat Lever and Alton Lister were wearing short shorts. Four years after his arrival, ASU is the only Pac-12 school to make the NCAAs the last two seasons.

IN THE NCAAS: ASU will make its 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the biggest note is Bobby Hurley in his third and fourth season has led ASU to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 1980-81. ASU is 11-16 in the Big Dance and has reached the final eight on three occasions (1961, 1963 and 1975) under Ned Wulk. In 2014, it fell to Texas on a buzzer beater in Milwaukee while in 2009, sixth-seeded ASU beat Temple 66-57 in Miami before falling to Syracuse 78-67 in James Harden’s second and final season. Last year ASU fell in the First Four to Syracuse 60-56, as ASU led 49-42 with 7:05 left before it was outscored 18-7.

SOLID: ASU finished second in the Pac-12 for just the fourth time in its 41-year Pac-10/12 history, as it also finished second in 2009-10, 1980-81 and 1979-80. ASU won 12 loop games for just the sixth time.

BEST PAC-12 RECORDS
16-2 (1): 1980-81
15-3 (2): 1979-80
12-6 (4): 2018-19, 2009-10, 1994-95, 1982-83

LAST MEETING: #16 ASU 82, ST. JOHN’S 70 (DEC. 8, 2017): ASU led 44-26 with 3:07 left in the first half but St. John’s cut it all the way to 71-70 before the Sun Devils outscored Saint John’s 11-0 for the 82-70 win. Romello White posted 22 points and nine rebounds while Shannon Evans II added 18 points, six rebounds and six assists. ASU made 23-of-27 (.852) free throws and also got 11 points from Vitaliy Shibel and 15 points from Kodi Justice. ASU held St. John’s to .391 from the floor (25-of-64) and led for more than 38 minutes.

TURNED IT AROUND FAST: Buffalo was 285-369 (.436) in 22 seasons after going DI (1991-2013). The Bulls were 42-20 (.678) in Coach Hurley’s two seasons. He is 114-77 (.597) in six years as a head coach.