The 5: Last five NCAA Tournament runs for Arizona State
The Arizona State Sun Devils do not have a deep history in the NCAA Tournament.
Finding the last five times they made the tournament, in fact, requires you to look back nearly 30 years.
Despite that fact, there’s been some success in those runs. The Sun Devils are 5-5, winning a game in every one of those showings except in the 2013-14 season.
Here’s a rundown of those appearances.
After making the tourney for two straight years in 1980 and 1981, it would be a nine-year drought out of the tournament until 1991.
Isaac Austin and Jamal Faulkner were the one-two scoring punch for the 19-9 ASU squad, a No. 8 seed drawing a first-round matchup with Rutgers.
A narrow 79-76 victory advanced the team to the second round, where it had a high-scoring game against No. 1 seed Arkansas. A 58-54 first half score would shrink to 39-36 in the second half, but the Razorbacks would not allow the upset and defeated ASU 97-90.
Oliver Miller had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Arkansas the year before the Suns would select him 22nd overall in the 1992 NBA Draft.
We go back over 20 years to find the last time the Sun Devils won at least two games in the NCAA Tournament.
As a No. 5 seed led by a trio of scorers in Mario Bennett, Ron Riley and Isaac Burton, they would cruise to an 81-66 win over 12th-seeded Ball State.
Following the shocking upset of No. 4 Oklahoma, the 13th-seeded Manhattan Jaspers awaited ASU in the next round.
A low scoring game with a lot of misses ended in ASU winning 64-54 despite the Sun Devils shooting only 33.9 percent. Riley had 21 points and Bennett finished with 17.
For a chance at an Elite Eight appearance, ASU would have to beat No. 1 seed Kentucky and ASU couldn’t get it done.
They were outclassed in a 97-73 loss. Future Phoenix Sun Tony Delk scored 26 for the Wildcats.
In eight years as head coach of ASU, the 2002-03 season was Rob Evans’ lone NCAA Tournament appearance.
Behind Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Ike Diogu and senior Curtis Millage, the Sun Devils went 19-11, earning a No. 10 seed to take on Memphis in the first round.
A surprising 18 points from Shawn Redhage to go along with 22 from Diogu and a near triple-double performance of 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists by Millage saw ASU advance in an 84-71 win.
With the benefit of hindsight, the Sun Devils, unfortunately, had to deal with an awful draw in No. 2 seed Kansas to advance to the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks’ inconsistency was an open invitation for an upset, as they narrowly escaped Utah State 64-61 in the round prior, but when they were rolling they were impossible to stop.
The latter is what ASU was dealt in a 108-76 defeat. Kansas had four players score at least 18 points: Nick Collison (22), Kirk Hinrich (24), Keith Langford (19) and Aaron Miles (18). That Kansas team would go all the way to the title game, falling to Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse.
Diogu would hang around for two more years, winning Pac-12 Player of the Year in his junior season, but would not bring the Sun Devils back to the NCAA Tournament.
The last time the Sun Devils won an NCAA Tournament game was surely when James Harden went off, right?
Sure, Harden led ASU to a 24-9 record and a No. 6 seed while averaging 20.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game, but he went missing in his team’s win over No. 11 seed Temple.
He shot 1-of-8 from the field, scoring nine points, but Jeff Pendergraph and Derek Glasser had his back, each scoring 22 points in the 66-57 win.
The true test would come against third-seeded Syracuse, a test ASU wasn’t quite ready for.
Harden, once again, couldn’t get it going, shooting 2-of-10, and despite 20-point efforts from Pendergraph and Rihards Kuksiks, ASU couldn’t afford to have another off game from its star freshman.
An Orange team led by Eric Devendorf and Johnny Flynn handled business for a 78-67 win. That Syracuse team would go on to be upset by No. 7 seed Oklahoma in the Sweet 16, thanks to 30 points and 14 rebounds from Blake Griffin.
The most recent Arizona State NCAA Tournament appearance ended in heartbreak.
Taking on No. 7 seed Texas as a No. 10 seed in Milwaukee, the Sun Devils battled in a game that the Longhorns were in firm control of most of the day.
At one point Texas would lead 59-46, but ASU would go on a 15-5 run to get the lead down to a one-possession game.
Back and forth scoring eventually led to a game tied at 85-85 with 17 seconds left. Texas ran a rather uninspiring play for Jonathan Holmes, who chucked up a contested 3-pointer with under four seconds remaining.
The shot was way off, surely sending the game to overtime, but the miss was so poor that the ball would bounce off multiple players’ hands under the rim. ASU’s Jordan Bachynski wasn’t able to get a body on Texas’ Cameron Ridley on the box out, and Ridley was left with the ball in a good spot and just got a quick lefty layup off in time with 0.3 seconds to go to send the Sun Devils home.
ASU’s reaction on the bench, of course, would become an instant classic on social media.
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