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Bobby Hurley: ASU wants to leave nothing to chance in Pac-12 Tourney

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley smiles as he leaves the court after the team's 95-88 overtime win against Arizona in an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Bobby Hurley firmly feels Arizona’s State’s resume will hold up to the scrutiny.

It’s just that for a team that’s beaten ranked teams but also lost to middling-to-poor Division I programs, the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas offers more than resume building. The Sun Devils head coach just wants to keep this thing rolling.

“I feel great about them,” he told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I’m gaining confidence and trusting that we could put together multiple games where we can play at a pretty high level. That’s what it takes at this time of year. You can’t afford to throw in a clunker anymore.”

ASU maybe could afford a clunker and still get an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Still, a loss on Thursday to the winner of the Wednesday UCLA-Stanford matchup would hurt. The Cardinal have a NET rating of 106, while UCLA is an even worse 118 as of Tuesday morning.

The Sun Devils have won five of their last six and 10 of their last 14 heading into the conference tournament. That was good enough to earn a No. 2 seed and a bye, allowing them to use Wednesday to watch their next opponent.

Hurley’s job is to keep his team motivated by pulling out all of the good from a recent stretch of success.

“A really good coach that I respect used the phrase, ‘If you think you’re in, you’re out. If you think you’re out, you’re in,'” Hurley said. “It’s kind of like a mindset thing, we’ve had some great success lately and that’s wonderful, but we need to adopt an approach where we’re not satisfied, we’re not content and we make sure that’s our messaging — and we haven’t accomplished anything we’ve hoped to.”

The Sun Devils have a NET of 67, just inside the bubble, but other parts of the resume jump out.

There’s the Dec. 23 defeat of then-No. 1 Kansas at home.

There were consecutive defeats of No. 15 Mississippi State and Utah State in November on a neutral court in Las Vegas.

But there was also an 81-65 defeat against Vanderbilt, which is now 9-22 without a win in 19 straight SEC games. A 67-66 loss at home to Princeton, which holds a 188 NET rating currently, bit ASU too. So did a 91-70 defeat at home against Washington State (198 NET).

Still, there’s a lot of good wins to unpack.

“If you’re just strictly looking at it from an NCAA Tournament perspective, I think again what we’ve accomplished is pretty strong relative to a number of teams that are slotted anywhere from nine through 11 (seeds),” Hurley said Tuesday. “We now have 11 Quad 1 and 2 wins, we’re 11-and-5, we have a great winning percentage versus those two quads, which is a very key statistic moving into NCAA Tournament consideration.

“I feel like we’re in pretty good shape. We’re going to try to leave nothing to chance.”

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