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Sun Devils hope to keep dream alive in Pac-12 Tournament

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley directs his team during an 86-75 win over Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz. (Photo by Fabian Ardaya/Cronkite News)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The dream is alive.

A four-game sweep in Las Vegas is the only chance for the Arizona State men’s basketball team to advance to the NCAA Tournament. It’s a longshot but also motivation for a group of players about to face a familiar foe.

The 14-17 Sun Devils open Pac-12 Tournament play against Stanford at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the new T-Mobile Arena. ASU beat the Cardinal twice this season but both times by fewer than 10 points.

“Both games could have gone the other way,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said.

ASU is a No. 8 seed and Stanford a No. 9. The lowest seed ever to win this conference tournament is a sixth seed.

Even after the Sun Devils lost their regular-season finale to Arizona on Saturday, Hurley felt positive about his team’s growth. He reiterated to his players the things they did well.

They will need to be at their best in the Pac-12 Tournament. Not only will it be a challenge playing Stanford in the first round but reaching the final would mean playing four straight days. It’s important to stay focused, guard Shannon Evans said.

“Take it game by game, not get ahead of ourselves,” he said. “Share the ball offensively and play team defense.”

A tournament field that includes three teams — UCLA, Oregon and Arizona — ranked among the top seven in the Associated Press Top 25 poll means a tough road for the Sun Devils. How are they handling the pressure?

“It doesn’t matter who’s in front of us, were going to try and get a win every single night,” guard Kodi Justice said.

Not looking ahead is key.

“You got to live in the moment and the moment right now is Stanford,” Evans said. “We are just trying to get a win Wednesday and keep moving forward.”

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